J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Saving Private Barnes at the M.H.S., 3 Apr.

And speaking of the question of divided loyalties at the Massachusetts Historical Society, next week on Tuesday, 3 April, the society will host a session of the Boston Area Early American History Seminar where participants will discuss Prof. Len Travers’s paper “The Court-Martial of Private Barnes.”
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 seminar starts at 5:15 P.M. In order to gauge the size of the room and the number of cookies needed, the society asks that people reserve a space in advance. Copies of the paper are usually available to read at the M.H.S. before the discussion.

(Image above courtesy of the Lake George R.V. Park.)

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