Historical Reading Skills - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-12-15
Historical Reading Skills - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Learning Education
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 939 words
8 min read


It is a common belief among upcoming historians that the main aim of studying and analyzing historical events is to avoid the repetition of such events in the future. This is not only untrue but also misleading. History gives guidance on how to move and think through sophisticated systems filled with diverse points of view, different political views, and disputed ideas. In this regard, it is essential to possess the right historical reading skills to understand the context and significance of documented historical events. This paper is a clear analysis of the document "Pontiac Calls for War, 1763." Highlighting the different skills of historical reading.

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The document was written by Pontiac, the Odawa war chief, in 1763, to rally his people (the Native Americans) against the British. In the document, Pontiac cites the words of Neolin, a spiritual leader of the Lenape tribe. By referring to Neolin's plea to the Indians to readopt their Native cultures, social practices, and technologies and stop relying on the French and British manufactured goods, Pontiac's understanding and beliefs were that the Native Americans were free and independent from the British laws and did not rely on anything from the Englishmen. Also, he believed that the land that the British had settled in was theirs, for it was an inheritance from their forefathers. The primary reason why Pontiac conveyed this massage was to unite the Indians to fight against the British due to their dissatisfaction with British policies.

The "Pontiac call for war" is a well-articulated document that depicts Pontiac's spiritual thoughts and views that rationalized the reasons why the Indians needed to fight against the British. Furthermore, by referring to the French defeat to the British, the document clearly shows the setting and time of events.


According to Nester (23), after defeating the French and taking charge of the forts around the Great Lakes, the British, under the command of General Amherst, adopted policies that stipulated matters concerning military operations and trade regulations with little consideration of the Natives. Among the most notable policies was the trade restriction of the amount of gunpowder and ammunition that traders could sell to the Indians. General Amherst did so to impair the Indians and prevent them from starting an uprising just like the 1761 Cherokee rebellion, where the British won against Cherokee Indians for their lack of ammunition and gunpowder.

Additionally, the Indians claimed that the British openly showed their contempt for them, treating most of them as slaves. This view was amplified by the General's refusal to offer gifts to the tribe leaders, a customary key symbol that fostered peace between the French and the Indians. In Amherst's view, giving gifts was a form of unnecessary bribery that was expensive, especially during that time when he was under pressure to reduce expenses after the long war between the French and the British. The chiefs, on the other hand, saw these actions to be offensive and a show of British superiority over the Native Americans.

The most significant event that influenced the massage on the document was the 1763 public execution of a female Indian slave, Panis, who was claimed to have killed her Master. Ordered by General Amherst, the execution was intended to show the Indians that they were colonial subjects to the British rule of law. The General was driven to foist a harsh peace on the Native Americans since he had defeated their allies, the French.

Close Reading

Pontiac's main claim in the document was that their god- The Master of Life, through Neolin, had ordered them to fight and drive out the Englishmen of their god-given lands. He goes on to argue that the British way of life was impure and granting to the Master of life and that this had cost them favor from their god. This is evident when he quotes Neolin's words to explain why they had to rely on the French and the British and why they had to fight.

The massage was passed to the people using the First Nations Languages, most probably the Ottawa language and the Native Delaware language. The Ottawa language was Pontiac's native language, whereas the Native Delaware language was Neolins' native language. However, there is a high chance that the English language was used to convey the message to the Englishmen since the British were also being addressed. The use of native languages showed both Pontiac's and Neolin's views of the tribes' alienation from the British and the French. Additionally, it was a show of unity and uniqueness of the Native Americans against their enemies.

Secondary Sources

There are various conflicting ideas among historians about the naming of the Pontiac's uprising. For some such as Francis Jennings, the naming of the war was merely exaggerated since Pontiac had little influence, for he was merely a local war chief, whereas the "war" involved many tribes. For others, Pontiac is viewed as the mastermind behind the uprising hence befitting of the title. Another conflict among scholars arises from the question of whether the uprising ought to be called a war or a rebellion. Although a malcontent leader starts most wars, rebellions are mainly directed to oppose an existing government or authority. Pontiacs uprising was against the policies of British governance; therefore, it was a rebellion against the British, not a war against them.

Work Cited

Nester, William R. " Haughty Conquerors": Amherst and the Great Indian Uprising of 1763. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=LYJdG9ecqEYC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=Pontiac+calls+for+war+1763&ots=epMt-r1wjY&sig=BsU-yjOSF1ZWrr-3xRUVGo6HQ-c

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Historical Reading Skills - Essay Sample. (2023, Dec 15). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/historical-reading-skills

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