MHS Calendar of Events
Turning Points in American History
10 June 2016 to 25 February 2017 Details
Months after the French capitulation at the end of the French and Indian War, a young Massachusetts man, Joshua Barnes, was discovered still in the company of his Wabenaki captors. He had been taken more than four years earlier while on patrol along Lake George. Now, Barnes was arrested and faced trial for treason before a British army court-martial. Was he, as the court insisted, a renegade who had willingly adopted Native life and taken up arms against his king? The testimony of both Barnes and the witnesses against him suggest something different: that hostage stress response, known today as Stockholm Syndrome, may better explain the behavior that led to his arrest.
This paper, digested from a draft chapter for a proposed book, will be a departure from familiar "fate of the captive" narratives, which generally assume a storyline of assimilation into Native societies, "failure" to assimilate, or redemption. The story of Barnes's captivity demonstrates that assimilation-or-ransom was not always the goal of Native American captors, and suggests that white captives frequently, even normally, adopted survival strategies that would be familiar to psychologists and law-enforcement agencies today.close