The Spread Of Firearms On The Anglo-French Frontiers

Submitted By pooja714
Words: 1492
Pages: 6

The Downfall Trade
Whenever two cultures come into contact for the first time, trade is almost an inevitable outcome. It is a way to form new relationships between two alien communities that benefit both communities. This phenomenon can be traced throughout history. Trade is usually considered beneficial as both sides receive goods and products that were previously unknown to them. For the most part, these new goods are meant to improve the communities’ daily life by making routine chores easier or quicker. However, in this case of the Iroquois and European trade of the early colonies, trade, proved not to be beneficial, but fatal to these Indian tribes. Worchester presents this argument in his paper, “The Spread of Firearms among the Indians on the Anglo-French Frontiers". In Worchester’s essay, he describes the trade interaction, specifically of firearms, between the Iroquois and Europeans. He specifically argues that the trade of firearms was the main reason why Indian culture was so devastated in three main ways: it changed the aboriginal culture of the Indians, lead to a dependence on European powers, and forced intertribal conflicts over protection. While Worchester’s argument is partially true, he ignores the trade of other goods, specifically run, which also contributed to the demise of the Indian tribes. It was not just firearms which led to the demise of the tribes, but trade in general. In the first encounters between the two cultures, both were willing to trade certain goods in exchange for new, desired items that the other side possessed. The Europeans, especially the French, strongly desired furs from the Indians. This desire for fur gave the Iroquois their first opportunity to receive firearms, such as muskets and gunpowder. In addition, The Indians received what where considered European “luxuries” such as alcohol, especially rum, a new “novelty” item for the Indians. While both sides received what they initially wanted, the implications that they had were far reaching.
In Worcester’s Paper, to prove his thesis he uses certain techniques and a clear layout to enhance his argument. He primarily resorts to using firsthand accounts of battles, direct quotes and data facts and comparisons to bolster his statements. This ample supply of evidence is more than sufficient to support his viewpoints. In addition, his points were logically laid out and flowed in a way that persuaded the reader of his standpoint. However, the only criticism of his paper that one might have is the lack of a clear rebuttal. Only once did he mention any counter arguments that others might possess, and he does not do anything significant to address this. . However, his main thesis with his three supporting statements is convincing.
The first point that the author brings up is that the introduction of firearms deteriorated the traditional way of life for the Indians. Before guns and ammunitions, fatality in war between tribes was at most minimal, and only the one or two captives were religiously killed afterwards. This is best described by the encounter the author cites between the Pieegans and Cree in which, “None of the warriors was killed, which was usual in such engagements unless one side was overwhelmingly su- perior” (Worchester 110) However, after the introduction of guns, fatalities rates escalated, and warfare lead to a detrimental loss of life, especially in tribe culture where maintaining a certain population was critical. Again, this is best illustrated by Worcester when he states,” Several years later these two tribes met again. This time the Piegans and their Cree allies had ten guns, which they were anxious to try in battle. The Cree and Piegan marksmen killed or wounded every Shoshone warrior who exposed himself to shoot an arrow. Appalled by the deadly effect of their enemies' guns, the Shoshones fled with a considerable loss of life”( Worchester 110). In addition, the use of guns for hunting instead of the