Uncas and Joshua
Uncas and Joshua
The Acquisition of Connecticut
Uncas, the chief of the Mohegans, initially cooperated with the Connecticut government to gain advantage over his native rivals. Uncas assisted in the conquest of the Pequots and agreed to seek Connecticut’s assistance in settling disputes with his Indian enemies in return for English support in intra-Indian disputes. He also granted land to English settlers in New London County where the Hempstead family arrived in 1645. In the following century, the Hempsteads flourished in New London while Mohegan lands continuously shrank and Indian lives were degraded. Because he was unfamiliar with the Connecticut legal system and ways of dealing, Uncas put land sales in the hands of a guardian, Captain John Mason. With the Indian economy crippled, Uncas was forced to sell land as a form of income. After his death, his son Oweneco sold land irresponsibly often under the influence of alcohol. By the time the diary of Joshua Hempstead takes up in 1711, the Mohegans were reduced to one small patch of land in Norwich. Joshua’s diary records the farming economy that effectively took control of the Connecticut landscape, forever excluding the Indians from their once extensive possessions.
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