During a time in history when one could be beheaded or burned at the stake for their beliefs, a single nation, the Netherlands, took a stand on behalf of toleration. A community of English separatists escaped persecution by moving there in 1608. But a flaw in their decision slowly became evident. Their children, growing up surrounded by Dutch culture and language, were forsaking traditional English values, becoming Dutch themselves. So, the separatists fled a second time, not as immigrants into a foreign culture, but as conquerors, imposing their culture on the indigenous peoples who welcomed them as guests. In America, their hosts wouldn't kill someone because of their beliefs. But they'd certainly kill someone because of their actions.
The bloody Pequot war shifted power from the unorganized tribes of the western frontier to the colonies in New England. Without threat of reprisal from the savage Pequots, there was nothing to hinder colonial expansion. The Connecticut River Valley became to focus of growth for nearly twenty-five years. And for twenty-five years the New England tribes——especially the Wampanoags——sold off their land, little by little, piece by piece. As their holdings shrank, they found themselves confined to what little remained until their very lifestyle was threatened.
The eastern tribes felt crowded on their vastly diminished lands. They didn’t understand the English concept of ownership, assuming that when land was sold it could still be traversed, fished and hunted. Their hostility at being excluded from property they’d enjoyed for generations increased to the point where Massasoit’s elder son Wamsutta——renamed Alexander by the English court——began plotting rebellion against the English and their Narragansett ally. Once Plymouth Governor Prence heard rumors of rebellion, he ordered Alexander to appear in court to explain his actions. The day of his appearance came and went, but not Alexander. He was in a conference with the Narragansetts, trying to sway them to his cause.
Ed Winslow’s son, Major Josiah Winslow, was dispatched to apprehend Alexander and bring him to court, by force if necessary. Alexander was enraged that the English would order his arrest based on hearsay, and Winslow was forced to draw his pistol. Although he entertained Alexander in his own home and showed him every kindness, Alexander couldn’t quell his anger. He was offered a horse on which to ride to court, but as his family was obliged to walk, Alexander chose to walk with them. His rage became his undoing, for shortly after his day in court he fell victim to a fever and died. His death elevated his younger brother, twenty-four-year-old Philip, to Sachem of the Pokanoket and Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag. Philip was also suspected of treachery against the English and summoned into court to explain himself. His haughty manner earned him the moniker “King”.
Then a celestial event occurred that caused widespread speculation. A flaming comet appeared in the New England sky from September 1664 through early December. Some saw it as a sign of God’s approval of the colonial pioneer’s hard work, a mandate to build and prosper in this grand new world. Some saw it as just another astronomical phenomenon with no particular meaning. But others saw a bad omen, indicating troubled times ahead. But after all these speculations, ten years of continuous growth and prosperity passed and nothing dreadful happened. At least not to the colonists.
Conspiracy rumors involving Philip became more frequent and Roger Williams of Rhode Island continued working with Pessicus and Ninigret, sachems of the Narragansetts and Niantics, to resolve them. In 1671, Williams even offered himself as a hostage to guarantee Philip’s return from his latest summons to the Massachusetts court. Philip appeared and renewed the covenant confirmed by his father and brother, but it was lip service. Ordered to disarm and surrender their weapons, he and his retinue complied, but only to stall for time. Philip broke his word, encouraging Indians from all over New England to join in a great powwow at Mount Hope. He insolently refused to re-appear in court to answer for this challenge to his agreement. Shortly thereafter, Philip’s former secretary and confidant, John Sassamon, was murdered and the comet’s earlier warning was about to be fulfilled.
Fans of the James family saga will get better acquainted with Captain Zeke of the Plymouth militia in this rousing tale of colonial expansion. While his parents, Alan and Aponi, are content with rural farm life, Zeke accompanies his childhood friend Ben Church into battle as Ben builds and leads what was later recognized as America's first army ranger unit. For everyone enthralled with the James/Stonefire saga, FireStorm is the most action-packed James family adventure yet. The first draft of FireStorm is finished and scheduled for final edit in the fall/winter of 2018.
The Fifth James Family Novel
Sequel to Nor'Easter
A Tale of king Philip’s War
1667 – 1680