Among the many upheavals in North America caused by the French and Indian War was a commonplace practice that affected the lives of thousands of men, women, and children: being taken captive by rival forces. Most previous studies of captivity in early America are content to generalize from a small selection of sources, often centuries apart. In Setting All the Captives Free, Ian Steele presents, from a mountain of data, the differences rather than generalities as well as how these differences show the variety of circumstances that affected captives’ experiences.
The product of a herculean effort to identify and analyze the captives taken on the Allegheny frontier during the era of the French and Indian War, Setting All the Captives Free is the most complete study of this topic. Steele explores genuine, doctored, and fictitious accounts in an innovative challenge to many prevailing assumptions and arguments, revealing that Indians demonstrated humanity and compassion by continuing to take numerous captives when their opponents took none, by adopting and converting captives into kin during the war, and by returning captives even though doing so was a humiliating act that betrayed their societies' values.
A fascinating and comprehensive work by an acclaimed scholar, Setting All the Captives Free takes the study of the French and Indian War in America to an exciting new level.