Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Paul Royster

Date of this Version



John Easton (1617-1705) was deputy governor of Rhode Island in the winter of 1675-1676 when he wrote this account of the beginnings of King Philip’s War. One copy of the document was sent to Sir Edmund Andros, the governor of New York, and it was preserved in the state archives and is the original source of the version presented here. Jenny Hale Pulsipher writes that Easton "also may have sent copies of the narrative to England, proving to authorities that, contrary to Massachusetts’s repeated protests, the colonies, not the Indians, bore responsibility for the conflict." The "Relation" apparently circulated among some influential persons in New England, because Increase Mather seems to make reference to it in the preface to his A Brief History of the Warr with the Indians in New-England (1676) (online at page 3 and note, page 90). Easton’s account is quite different from Mather’s: where Mather was at pains to demonstrate that the Indians attacked the English without provocations, Easton gives both a full statement of the Native perspective (as presented by their leaders in pre-war negotiations) and a candid, if perhaps jaundiced, view of the motives of the United Colonies (Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut) and their established Puritan clergies. Easton was a Quaker who, along with his father, had been forced out of Massachusetts in 1638. His father, Nicolas Easton (1593–1675), was President of Rhode Island in 1650–1651 and 1654, Deputy Governor 1666-1669 and 1670-1671, and Governor in 1672–1674. John Easton served as Deputy Governor 1674–1676, and as Governor of Rhode Island 1690-1695.

Easton’s “Relation of the Indian War” was first printed in 1858, and was reprinted in 1913 by Charles Lincoln in his Narratives of the Indian Wars 1675–1699. Both of these editions reproduce Easton’s unorthodox spelling and orthography, and may appear somewhat opaque to the modern reader. For the sake of greater clarity, this present edition renders Easton’s “Relation” in modern English, changing spelling and word order and adding punctuation and auxilliary words as needed. The original language, as reprinted in Lincoln’s compilation, is included as an appendix. Four paragraphs relating to Easton from Lincoln’s introduction are also reproduced.