Apess, William (1798-1839)

edited by
Wendy Hayden

10 October 2006

Voices of Democracy: The U. S. Oratory Project

Department of Communication,
2130 Skinner Building,
University of Maryland,
College Park, MD 21774

The following editorial note is provided by the editor.

Reproduced here is the version of the Eulogy on King Philip that appears in On Our Own Ground: The Complete Writings of William Apess, A Pequot, edited by Barry O’Connell (Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992), 277-310. This is the standard text that is now cited by all scholars working on Apess.
O’Connell explains in his “Textual Afterward” that the Eulogy appeared in two editions, in 1836 and 1837. The second version was considerably shortened, and he believes it reflects the version of the speech that Apess gave on the second occasion of its delivery (26 January 1836). O’Connell was able to compare the two versions in the two copies owned by the American Antiquarian Society, and so he is able to say with authority that “Apess’s revisions were more in the nature of condensation than any alteration of meaning and tone” (313). O’Connell, therefore, does not feel it necessary to indicate what was excised in the 1837 edition, although he points out that for interested scholars, libraries may be able to obtain a rare facsimile edition that marks these changes: Eulogy on King Philip, Lincoln Dexter, editor (Brookline, Massachusetts: Dexter, 1985) (313, 326).
O’Connell tells us that he has corrected obvious misspellings and typographical errors in the text, modernized and simplified Apess’s punctuation, and altered the spelling of some words to conform to contemporary American usage (313). All these changes seem helpful for contemporary students, who will also be assisted by O’Connell’s excellent footnotes, reproduced here.
O’Connell’s usage has also established the dominant spelling of Apess’s last name, which appears as “Apes” on some of his publications. O’Connell favors “Apess” because it is the spelling given on Apess’s last two publications, and therefore may be regarded as his “final word” on the spelling he preferred. O’Connell also believes that “Apess” assists in pronouncing the name correctly as it would be in Algonquian. (O’Connell explains his reasoning on this matter in a footnote, “Introduction,” xiv.)

The following are the textual notes provided by the editor. The location of these notes are indicated by paragraph number and the preceding few words.

6 men;: Philip’s father was the Pokanoket sachem Massasoit who, as the rest of the Eulogy makes clear, became the Pilgrims’ crucial ally.
7 1611),: Apess’s own notes will appear throughout this text within parentheses. He seems to have confused Thomas Hunt’s 1614 capture of about twenty Indians for sale as slaves with the exploits of Edward Harlow. Whereas Hunt tried unsuccessfully to sell his captives in Spain, Harlow commanded an expedition in 1611 to kidnap Indians for the purpose of making them guides for the English. Among those Harlow captured was Epenow (Epenuel), a sachem from Martha’s Vineyard. Epenow spent three years with Sir Ferdinando Gorges, the commander of the Plymouth fort in England who had an interest in colonizing New England. He told Gorges stories of fabulous gold miners. In 1614 Gorges sent an expedition back to find mines, only to Epenow leap overboard as the ship approached the island. Epenow’s countrymen assisted him by showering the boat with a barrage of arrows, wounding the captain and a number of his crew. From Neal Salisbury, Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England, 1500 1643 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 95.
9 men): Iyanough of Cummaquid was one of the sachems who were counted as allies of the Plymouth Colony until Miles Standish lashed out against a “conspiracy” of Massachusett leaders in 1623, killing seven. From Salisbury, Manitou and Providence, 130-34.
10 (O.S.): Old Style. Dates were ten days earlier than they would be currently.
10 Pilgrims.: Samoset, an Abenaki whose people had experience trading with the English, and Squanto, a well-traveled captive who had been taken to England at one time, arranged for the March 1621 meeting between the Pokanoket and the English that resulted in a treaty. The treaty, in addition to symbolizing the mutual good will between the Pokanoket and the colonizers, freed Squanto to live with the English, whom he served as an interpreter, guide, and diplomat. From Salisbury, Manitou and Providence, 114-16.
11 live.: Thomas Weston, a non Separatist London merchant, formed a second colony in 1622 at Wessagusset, north of the Plymouth colony, consisting of sixty single men, most of whom had arrived earlier at Plymouth without adequate provisions. Ibid., 125.
11 Wittumumet,: Wituwament, a Massachusett sachem, was lured into in English home and killed with his own knife as part of Standish’s preventive attacks to frustrate the Massachusett “conspiracy.” Ibid., 130.
12 dead.: A Massachusett who led a band of fifty to sixty followers. Ibid., 184.
13 whatever.”: Captain Thomas Dermer led expeditions to New England on behalf of Ferdinando Gorges in 1619 and 1620. The incident Dermer recounted occurred in the summer of 1620 when an English crew coasting along Massachusetts Bay invited some Pokanokets onto the ship and then murdered them.
14 so.: This passage refers to Squanto, who plotted against Massasoit but was protected by the Pilgrims, who needed his aid.
16 suspicion.: Alexander was the eldest son of Massasoit and Philip’s brother. Apess’s account captures what seems actually to have occurred.
16 Mather,: This is Increase Mather, Cotton Mather’s father. Both wrote virulently against Indians, but it was Increase Mather who wrote most at length on King Philip’s War.
17 men.: Tisquantum was another name for Squanto. Coubantant was a sachem at Nemasket who had kidnapped Squanto and another of Plymouth’s Indian advisers in August 1621.
18 Essex.: This is Mascononomo, and the “Pilgrims” he is welcoming were actually the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, whose governor was John Winthrop.
20 1622;: Apess, as he makes clear later in the speech, takes December 22 as the day the Pilgrims landed and stepped on Plymouth Rock. They in fact arrived in Massachusetts in December 1620. The landing at the rock is a piece of later mythology, which grew up alongside a celebration of the Founding Fathers. These twin icons in Euro American culture each found an early and supreme articulator in Daniel Webster. Apess is, very consciously, I think, echoing and disputing Webster’s reverential reading both of the “Fathers” and of the Pilgrims. The relevant speeches, among the best known cultural expressions in Apess’s day, are Webster’s “First Settlement of’ New England” delivered at Plymouth on December 22, 1 820, and his “Adams and Jefferson” delivered in Faneuil Hall, Boston, on August 2, 1826, the year the two men died on July 4 -an irresistibly evocative coincidence.
23 Indians.: Mob violence, both in rural and urban areas, increased dramatically in the 1830s in the United States, reaching its peak in the summer of 1835. Anti-abolitionist mobs have been the most noticed but there were also nativist mobs attacking Catholics. anti Mormon mobs, vigilantes lynching gamblers and others, and workingmen’s mobs. Anti abolition and anti Negro mobs were particularly common and nowhere more so than in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
23 defend.: Canonicus was a sachem of the Narragansett who, with his nephew, Miantonomi, led the Narragansett so well that they were able to make tributary, without going to war, most of the Indian groups of the region from Narragansett Bay nearly to Boston.
41 World: His “comers from the New World” may only be a slip of the pen, referring as he is to the Europeans, who are conventionally, of course, from the “Old” World, having “discovered” the “New” This is, however, so like Apess’s wit and his delight in inverting the conventions of language through which Europeans validated their presence and their dominance in the Americas that it may be entirely deliberate–for the Europeans were of course from a new world from the perspective of Native Americans.
41 rights.: I have not been able to identify this poem.
45 Pocasset,: The battle began July 18, 1675. It started when fifteen Englishmen were killed in ambush in woods so thick that there was fear the English would shoot one another.
49 Hill.: Opposite present day Sunderland, Massachusetts.
52 Rowlandson,: Mary Rowlandson was captured, along with three of her children, by a group of Philip’s allies in an attack that destroyed her home village of Lancaster, Massachusetts. She was ransomed after six months of living with Indian war parties. Her Narrative of her captivity, published in 1682, became almost instantly popular and inaugurated one of the most important genres in American literature. Apess has read the Narrative carefully because, despite speaking “with bitterness sometimes of the Indians,” she does present a human and even fond portrait of Philip, one from which we can get a glimpse of the very considerable man to whom Apess pays tribute.
53 battle.: Benjamin Church was the most successful of the leaders of the forces of the United Colonies against Philip. His sympathy with the Indians, his close knowledge of them, and his careful wooing of groups who were either unfriendly to Philip of otherwise uncertain about the war enabled him, as Apess rightly argues, to succeed where most of the other English commanders failed -in part because of their disdain for the Indians and a refusal to consider their ways.
54 others;: At the end of the Pequot War of 1637 the English sold a number of Pequots, men, women, and children, into slavery in Bermuda as part of their determination to wipe out the culture so they would never again be at risk of being challenged by it. The Pequots on Bermuda, though long out of touch with their New England brethren, have maintained a somewhat distinctive cultural identity to the present.
58 34th verse,: “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do.'”
58 60th verse,: “Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and when he said this, he fell asleep.”
63 Gookin,: Daniel Gookin was an early attendant among the Indians and of their history. His Historical Collections of the Indians in New England was published in 1792.
70 Logan,: Logan’s speech, made after having his home and family destroyed by the English in 1774, was often quoted in this period as follows: “I appeal to any white to say, if ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked, and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites that my countrymen pointed as they passed and said, ‘Logan is the friend of the white men.’ I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Col. Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan; not even sparing my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan–Not one!”

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Library of Congress Classification

26 January 1836
Boston, Massachusetts


Philip, Sachem of the Wampanoags, d. 1676. Subheadings: Indians, Treatment of–Massachusetts, King Philip’s War, 1675-1676, Wampanoag Indians–Biography.



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