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Responses to a Government of Ideals

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Responses to a Government of Ideals



  • Any issues? 





Apess and Conversations about Freedom


Images of Native American displacement (forced by the "Indian Removal Act") were prominent in the 1800s. 


"Shadow of the Owl" - John Guthrie


As Morgan Freeman states in the dramatic presentation of the Declaration of Independence, the American government of ideals did not create an ideal world. However, it did generate conversations about these ideals. William Apess exposes American hypocrisy and demands justice. 


William Apess's ordination as a minister in the Protestant Methodist Church preceded by only a few months the publication of his A Son of the Forest (1829), 
the first published autobiography -- and one of the earliest books of any genre wholly written -- by a Native American. In 1831 he was appointed a missionary 
to his people, the Pequots, and eventually settled with the Mashpees (the name was spelled Marshpee in the early nineteenth century), the inhabitants of the 
last remaining Indian town in Massachusetts. He quickly became a leader in their struggle to govern their town free of white guardians and to appoint a 
minister of their own choosing for the local church.



The Mashpee Revolt broke out in 1833, and Apess's name became briefly known throughout the United States: he was, in effect, the 
leader of one of the first Indian rights movements. In large part because of Apess's brilliance as a polemicist and a tactician, the 
Mashpees achieved most of their demands by 1834. Apess was once more in the public eye in January 1836 when he delivered his 
controversial Eulogy on King Philip in the largest hall in Boston. He died in New York City three years later. - Retrieved from "William Apess - Early Native American Poet"


Group Work:

Break into groups. Identify Apess' main points and list the evidence he uses to support his claims in the comment box below.


Discussion Questions: 

What do you think about Apess' rhetorical strategies? 

How does Apess speech to preachers position American racism?

Have you ever thought of racism as a religious issue? 



Other Declarations of Independence 


What did you think about the Harvard Lecture on "Other Declarations of Independence"? Did you find it convincing? Interesting? The lecture began with "Steal Away to Jesus." Listen to this song and think about how it relates to the meaning of the lecture. 




War and Religion:


In this class, we will look at both good voices and evil ones, because it is important to understand CONTEXT. Underhill's horrible account (which is found in the Norton Anthology - it's a part of the cannon of American Lit) is the backdrop for Apess personal history (and it informs his writing). This describes some of Underhill's actions during the war with King Phillip (Apess' ancestor). 


War and violence are traditionally tied to spiritual beliefs and practices, even though these things seem antithetical. War is a place where MANY people (at the same time) confront the reality of life and death and have to come to terms with it. Throughout history, many groups took their deities or representations of those deities to war with them. In the United States, soldiers carried saints' medallions and Bibles into battle.


Underhill uses religion in several places in this account. Underhill's conception of the Divine is probably not the same as anyone in this room (The Antinomians are not an active sect, like the Puritans. Although some people still talk about antinomianism in Christianity and other religions -just as they talk about puritanism- it is discussed as a trend not as a sect or self-identifying sect that I could find). So let's look at Underhill's use of religion as objectively as possible. What is religion DOING here? How does it work in the narrative? How does it work for the author. Break into groups and discuss it for 10 minutes.  


Religion as Rhetoric


Rhetorical Strategies:

Rhetorical strategies are argumentative approaches that you've used your entire life (we're just naming things you already recognize).


Pathos: appeal to emotion

  • This could be anything that excites emotions (either positive or negative).
    • For example, the ad that makes you feel insecure about your body image is appeal to your emotions (it generates insecurity and anxiety).  


Logos: appeal to rationality or reason (logic)

  • This is anything that (appears to be) logical or rational.
    • Logos often includes statistics, numbers and quantifiable data. 
    • Logos and ethos often collide (the rational data is presented by someone who appears to have the credentials to make those claims). 

Ethos: appeal to authority or values (ethics)


  • This could be celebrity appeal (the authority of a well now individual). 
  • This could be an appeal to shared values, such as shared national pride (nationalism)
  • This could also be moralistic or religious in nature (the authority of a shared moral/religious belief)  


Sex Appeal (this actually falls under ethos - the "value" of sexuality)

  • Sex appeal uses sexuality to persuade the audience.  


More links for rhetorical appeals:

Response to Cram


Red Jacket was another great Native American statesman and rhetor who used words (and religion) as a form of protest.


Discussion Questions:

What was his main point?

What evidence does he use?

How does his challenge function (rhetorically) in this response?


Group Work:

Google responses by international Christians to white imperialist Christianity. How does Red Jacket's response resonate with other international critiques? How has the Church grown despite the hypocrisy of people who claim to be Christians while they rob, steal and cheat?   

Native Americans and Europeans - Early Encounters"  


The texts we've been reading/discussing today are primary texts. These are secondary texts. What's the difference? 


Primary texts are original texts, creative works, relics, or artifacts. By contrast, secondary texts are ABOUT primary texts. See "Primary vs Secondary Sources."


Group Work: 

Break into groups and discuss Neil White's interpretation of the early encounters between Native Americans and Europeans. What are his main points? What evidence does he use to support these points? Write your answers in the comment box below.


Dark End of the Street


The "Introduction" to The Dark End of the Street bridges the ideas that Apess first addresses and Louis Sacchar expands upon in Holes: the way gender and sexuality are a part of the discussion of race and citizenship in the U.S.


Group Discussion Questions: 

  • Where does Apess address sexual exploitation? Did you catch his allusion to anti-miscegenation legislation? What is that? 
  • Go through the introduction and pick out THREE quotes that sum up the message and post them in comment box below. 


More Resources:


Comments (10)

Taylyn Strange said

at 4:14 pm on Jan 15, 2019

Noel, Taylyn, Kaitlyn, Megan
Pathos- Native American women and children at the beginning (their vulnerability)
Ethos- "Jesus is not white" segment; argument of God being wrong concerning making more people of color than white people
Logos- Christianity does not align with the actions of the white men

Carlee King said

at 4:17 pm on Jan 15, 2019

Aynae, Tessa. Carlee
Pathos- "Females who are left alone, children who are half starved..." Them not having their male figure. He was also throwing their religion in their face.
Logos- "Or have you the folly to think that the white man, being one in fifteen or sixteen, are the only beloved images of God?"
Ethos- If you think otherwise, then you saying God screwed up.

Emma Hyatt said

at 4:17 pm on Jan 15, 2019

Pathos is seen in the whole speech because it is appealing to emotion. He uses logos when he is comparing how many white people there is to black people in the world. Ethos was how their religion was a common ground and that Jesus was the sole authority.

Taylyn Strange said

at 4:34 pm on Jan 15, 2019

Noel, Taylyn, Kaitlyn, Megan
Apess provides a "list of grievances."
argument is centered around God
goal is to establish universal equality
past tyranny used as evidence; historical documents

Ashley Young said

at 4:35 pm on Jan 15, 2019

Just like in the Declaration of Independence, Apess represents a "small group" that is protesting a large topic to a "larger group" just like America was significantly smaller than the King.

Carlee King said

at 4:36 pm on Jan 15, 2019

Just like with the other, he saw what was wrong and pointed it out. He talks about how for so long we went along with it. Apess talked about the issues that were going on and explained how everyone was just going along with it and not doing anything about it, just like everyone was doing under King George. In the declaration and in Apess, they are both a call to arms to change the situations.

Noel Saunders said

at 4:20 pm on Jan 17, 2019

Megan, Noel, Carlee, and Aynae

2 ways "religion" is working in Underhill:

1. Plays with emotions of readers (pathos). He knows most New England readers care deeply about religion and God.

2. Using religion gives Underhill authority, and he uses God as a "blanket" or cover-all justification to do what he and the army originally wanted to do.

Ashley Young said

at 4:21 pm on Jan 17, 2019

Emma, Christalyn, Ashley

He uses religion to try and seem rational about what he is doing. He may know that he is crazy, but by saying "God told me to" he is hoping people see him as rational. He justifies not feeling empathy by saying that God took their feelings. We think he used scripture to back himself up because he wanted to prove that he was not crazy and that God told him to do it.

Sarah Westfall said

at 4:27 pm on Jan 17, 2019

And doth not the Apostle say, contend for the truth
(though not in a violent way ?) doth not Christ say,
I came not to bring peace but a sword ? and why
should men wonder at us, seeing that troubles and
contentions have followed the purest Churches since
the beginning of the world to this day.

He is using the Bible to try and justify his actions.

Noel Saunders said

at 4:27 pm on Jan 17, 2019

Megan, Noel, Carlee, and Aynae

Underhill refers to God as he talks about his view of the "value" in women.
He also claims God took away the army's pity for the Indians.

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