Faculty Publications

Title

The female Indian killer memorialized: Hannah Duston and the nineteenth-century feminization of American violence

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Women's History

Volume

20

Issue

2

Abstract

Hannah Duston was a Massachusetts woman taken captive by a group of Native Americans in 1697. She later killed and scalped ten members of an Indian family with whom she had been placed. While Duston was well-known in 1697, there is little mention of her in published sources from 1703 to 1815. Between the 1820s and 1880s, however, versions of her story proliferated in print, and three major monuments were erected in her honor. This article explores the reasons for nineteenth-century Americans' fascination with Duston. It argues that their gendered notion that men were more violent than women, in conjunction with their feminized representations of the nation, worked to create a model of American identity in which violence committed by the United States was, by definition, feminine, and therefore innocent, defensive violence. The link between female virtue and the nation's virtue, then, facilitated the development of a gendered ideology of American innocence. © 2008 Journal of Women's History.

Original Publication Date

1-1-2008

DOI of published version

10.1353/jowh.0.0007

Share

COinS