Historical interpretations of the Anglo-Pequot War have oscillated between ethnographic and conspiratorial explanations, arguing that it resulted either from cultural differences and misunderstandings or from scheming and provocation. But seventeenth-century accounts of the conflict demonstrate the interconnectedness of the ethnographic and conspiratorial frameworks, going as far as to suggest that the Pequots, one of the first Native American groups referred to by name, conspiratorially used their “Indianness” as a weapon. Tracing this connection, from the narratives of Philip Vincent and John Mason to those of John Underhill and Lion Gardiner, helps us better appreciate the racial origins of seventeenth-century conspiracy thought.

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