Son of the Forest, A

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SON OF THE FOREST, A (1829; revised 1831) was the first of five books written by the Pequot preacher and orator William Apess. This narrative of Apess's life and conversion to Methodism excoriates Christian hypocrisy toward, and misrepresentation of, native people, a pronounced theme in all his work. By 1832, Apess had relocated from New York to Boston, where he became associated with both the anti-removal and antislavery movements. His second book, Experiences of Five Christian Indians of the Pequot Tribe (1833), shows his exposure to both in its account of the absurdity of color as a signifier of racial inferiority. Enlisted by Cape Cod's Mashpee Indians to aid in their petition for self-government, Apess recounts their partially successful struggle in his third book, Indian Nullification of the Unconstitutional Laws of Massachusetts; or, the Pretended Riot Explained (1835), which was well received by Boston's literary and political elite. Apess's greatest achievement was his final work, Eulogy on King Philip (1836), in which he produces an alternative account of King Philip's War that defines both history and politics for native peoples in New England. Well-known throughout his career as a powerful orator, by the time Apess gave the eulogy he had lost the support of sympathetic whites as well as the Mashpee leadership. He returned to New York in 1839, where he died of apoplexy on 10 April.


Apess, William. On Our Own Ground: The Complete Writings of William Apess, a Pequot. Edited by Barry O'Connell. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992.

Maureen Konkle

See also Pequots .