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Olaudah Equiano Slave Ship

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    After Columbus’ voyage to the New World in 1492, contact between three types of people-?Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans-?was accelerated. Each, remaining relatively isolated from the others, had established independent cultures and societal characteristics. It was almost unavoidable that when these peoples came into contact, differences in interests could arise that could in turn lead to conflict. Clashes like those along with economic and trade interests frequently led to one member of a group to be taken captive by members of another.

    Two examples that illustrate this are Mary Rowland, a white woman captured by Native Americans, and Aloud Equation, an African captured by white slave traders. Both had to adjust to an unfamiliar environment during their captivities, but in terms of religion, Rowland maintained and had her Christian beliefs reinforced during her captivity, while Equation adopted the religious beliefs Of his captors. Their experiences show how English religion and culture in particular came to dominate many others in the Atlantic World.

    Both Rowland and Equation had their own original religions going into captivity. Rowland was a devout Puritan: Like many other colonists in Massachusetts, she was born in England but emigrated to the New World for the opportunity to practice her religion more freely. Furthermore, she was married to the prominent minister Joseph Rowland, and she had family members such as her mother who were important church members. 1 These factors, in addition to the fact that Rowland was an adult with well over thirty years of constant Christian experience, instilled in her a deep sense of Christianity.

    Equation writes about his religion, “the natives believe there is en Creator of all things… He governs events, especially our deaths or captivity. “2 He goes on to note other characteristics of his native religion; one example is that they sacrifice and make offerings. 3 This is important because Equation is initially shocked at white religion when he observes that they do not sacrifice or make offerings-4 In contrast to Rowland, Equation is only a child of about eleven when he IS captured.

    His young age suggests that his original religion is not deeply inside him, and that he should be more susceptible to change. One factor that didst anguished Railroading’s captivity room that of Equation was the relative length of her captivity. The impermanence of her time with the Native Americans-?three months–is an important reason Rowland maintained her religious faith. Three months may seem like a significant time to be stuck in foreign surroundings, but it will not undo many decades’ worth off Christian lifestyle.

    Still, during those three months, Rowland did not adhere to her Christian faith perfectly. She describes how “when the Sabbath came they bade me go to work,”6 and she complied. Thus, out of necessity of physical survival, she occasionally aviated from her religious requirements, yet, in the long run, they did not make her less devout. Quite the contrary, her captivity strengthened her religious resolve. Spending Sabbath day among the Native Americans allowed Rowland to reflect, “l then remembered how careless I had been of Gods holy time: how many Sabbath had lost and misspent. 7 That and her gratitude to God for helping her survive unharmed made her a firmer believer than ever. Quinoa’s captivity, on the other hand, was permanent-?for the rest of his life, he never returned to his homeland or original tribe. Such a length definitely makes Railroading’s three months seem very simulators. Since Equation would spend the rest of his life in his captors’ culture, his adoption of their religious beliefs-?Christianity-?was very likely, and indeed did occur.

    The fact that the English were able to hold on to Equation while the Native Americans eventually released Rowland also indicates the stability and soundness of the English. While Quinoa’s tribe was never powerful enough to secure his release from the English, Rowland was released because her captors were on the losing side of the AR and needed to begin negotiations. Quinoa’s increasingly Christian beliefs can be seen in that he makes references to God and ties events in his life with religion more and more frequently as his narrative progresses, just as Rowland does.

    Reflecting on why he failed to win his freedom, he concludes he must have sinned, but writes “He had hitherto shadowed me with the wings of his mercy and by his invisible, but powerful hand. “9 Railroading’s and Quinoa’s respective attitudes toward their captors’ culture and religion also played an important role in how their captivities influenced heir religious views. Rowland had a deep aversion toward the Native Americans as a race, and was deeply repulsed by their customs. Throughout her narrative, Rowland characterizes the Native Americans as savages, heathen, or pagans.

    Despite her constant complaint that her captors are not Christian, she still views Praying Indians, or those that have converted to Christianity, as deceptive and insincere 1. All these aversions play an important role in keeping her from accepting their belief system and keeping a firm grip on her own. The existence of Praying Indians even demonstrates he degree to which Native Americans were adopting English culture, not the other way around. While Rowland loathed her captors’ culture, Equation admired that of his captors.

    Equation started out fearing the new and unfamiliar English ways, but he came to view them positively, asserting that the English were “men superior to us; and therefore had the stronger desire to resemble them, to imbibe their spirit, and imitate their manners. ” 12 English women convinced him “l could not go to Heaven, unless I was baptized,” 1 3 and he formally converted to Christianity With his baptizing. Such a positive attitude, as shown, led Equation to adopt English culture. Time likely played a role in this: it probably took Equation a lot longer than three months to stop fearing English culture and start accepting it.

    Practical reasons may have also driven Equation to become Christian. Around the time of his conversion, Equation was a slave with a master. Having the same religion, Equation hoped, would put him on a similar standing with his masters. Indeed, Equation would invoke his Christianity when he declared his freedom to his master: “l have been baptized; and, by the laws of the land, no an has a right to sell me. ” 14 The stories of Rowland and Equation reveal a great deal about the relationship between Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

    At the conclusion of each narrative, both had Christian beliefs-?Rowland to begin with, and Equation having acquired it during his captivity. These stories indicate that while Africans and Native Americans adopted Christianity, a characteristic of European culture, very few Englishmen converted to African or Native American faiths. Thus, of the three, English culture was the one that minded most constant. The constancy of English culture and religion also shows how it dominated in the Atlantic World of this time period.

    Its dominance had consequences in that it influenced the further development of societies and institutions in the New World, which has effects that are still relevant today. Mary Rowland and Aloud Equation were both figures of the American Colonial Era who were both captured by groups of people unfamiliar to them. Their captivities altered their religious views to an extent. In Railroading’s case, her strong religious background, brief captivity, and version toward her captors’ customs made it possible for her to maintain and even reinforce her Christian beliefs.

    On the other hand, Quinoa’s young age, permanent captivity, and admiration for his captors’ culture allowed for him to adopt Christianity willingly. Since both ended up Christian, they serve as examples of how English religion and culture dominated the Atlantic World of that time period. As the English, through their colonization, intensified the interactions between three groups of people, they were the ones that ultimately had the greatest influence over it.

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