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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

3. Utopian

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Samson Occom - Selected Archive Items

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[1236] John Eliot, The Holy Bible Containing the Old Testament and the New Translated into the Indian Language (1663),
courtesy of Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania.
Commonly known as the "Eliot Bible," this book was the first Bible published in New England and appeared over a hundred years before the first complete English edition of the Bible was published in the American colonies. It is written in Massachuset, the language of the Massachuset and Wampanoag Indians. John Eliot, the "Apostle to the Indians," composed his text to serve the cause of Native American conversion to Puritan Christianity.

[2850] Brass medal given to Christian Indians as a reward for service,
courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, N38319/N38320. Photo by Carmelo Guadagno.
Christianized Indians fought on both the Native and the British sides in King Philip's War, which led to confusion on the part of colonists as to who was a "good" and who was a "bad" Indian. Brass medals were awarded to those who served the British.

[6747] John Warner Barber, Sketch of Samson Occom's house (1836),
courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society.
This illustration from Barber's Historical Collections of Connecticut is one of the few depictions of a private dwelling in the book. This house in Mohegan (present-day Montville, Connecticut) belonged to Occom. British-style housing, fenced yards, and individual property ownership were perceived by missionaries to be signs of a successful conversion to Christianity.

[6748] Anonymous, Rev. Samson Occom, the Indian Preacher (1802),
courtesy of the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania.
Between 1750 and 1766, Occom sat for at least three different portraits. This one emphasizes Occom's identity as a minister, rather than his Native American heritage. Others show him in Native American dress that resembles a Roman toga.

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