Man with a Cross: Hawkeye Was a “Half-Breed”

Barbara Mann (University of Toledo)

Presented at the Cooper Panel of the 1998 Conference of the American Literature Association in San Diego.

Originally published in James Fenimore Cooper Society Miscellaneous Papers No. 10, August 1998.

Copyright © 1998, James Fenimore Cooper Society.

[May be reproduced for instructional use by individuals or institutions; commercial use prohibited.]

Natty Bumppo — Hawkeye of James Fenimore Cooper’s five Leather-Stocking Tales — is indelibly inscribed in the critical mind as the “man without a cross,” that prototypical “white Indian” of American literature. So accustomed are they to Natty’s “man-without-a-cross” mantra that critics take it at face value, never asking the obvious question: Was Natty really a man without a racial cross? I say, “Not a chance.” Seen against the backdrop of Native history, of which Cooper was intimately aware, 1 Natty could only have been a mixed blood.

Now for a little primer: Modem critics tend to assume that the one-drop rule of racial identity was always in force in America, legally disallowing any wiggle room to people of racially mixed ancestry. Not so. There were in actuality three rules of racial identity, each competing with the others between 1750 and 1850: generational passing; the rule of recognition; and the rule of descent. Generational passing, the British rule under colonialism, allowed third generation cross-bloods to pass as “white,” regardless of how Native or African they might look. 2 By 1825, racist theory was gaining ground in America, positing two new, conflicting “rules” of race, those of recognition and descent. The rule of recognition was the eye-test of identity: whoever could pass, might; while the rule of descent — the infamous “one-drop” rule — forbade passing at all times, regardless of generation or appearance. 3 After 1825, only the rules of recognition and descent remained to vie for social control and, from 1850 on, the one-drop rule alone applied. Note that, in Natty’s lifetime, the generational rule and the rule of recognition were in force. Under either, Natty was legally “white,” even though in modem, more racist America, he would not be so categorized.

Over the eighteen years that the Leather-Stocking Tales were composed, the racial rules changed dramatically from the liberal generational rule, to the devious recognition rule and, finally, to the one-drop dogma. Interestingly, Natty’s trademark tagline developed in tandem with this social changeover. Natty did not start out fixated on his heritage, or pressed to reveal it every other speech. It is a statistical fact that, as the Tales progressed, the number of racial disclosures increased exponentially while their tone turned desperate. In the first Tale of the series, The Pioneers (1823) the preponderance of references were to Natty as Native, rather than to Natty as European. Against eighteen direct indications that Natty was at least partially Native, there were only four instances in which he was discussed as “white,” and two of them were fairly ambiguous. 4 Things had changed noticeably by the second novel of the series, The Last of the Mohicans (1826). Natty scarcely parted his lips without insisting he was “white.” No fewer than twenty-two times in Last of the Mohicans, he personally announced the purity of his biological credentials, although he did concede having “lived with the redskins long enough to be suspected.” 5 By 1841, when Cooper arrived at The Deerslayer, the last novel of his series, both he and Natty were practically frantic over the issue of race. In the 508 pages of my copy of the novel, I found that Natty alluded to his supposed European identity a grand total of seventy-two times, often several times on the same page and, sometimes, even within the same speech. 6 My Deerslayer count did not include the number of times that other characters or the narrator alluded to Natty’s “color” as “white.” In all, I found that Natty’s racial claims changed as the series progressed, with Natty ultimately overprotesting his cross-less blood. People who are secure in their identity do not need to announce it every other breath.

Whenever I press my claim of Natty as a mixed blood, someone is sure to reply, “But his skin was white,” as though this constituted proof-positive of his racial identity. It constitutes little more than the historical ignorance and racist brainwashing current in American culture. In fact, throughout the eastern woodlands generally people had light skin. 7 The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of the Northeast were particularly noted for their Euro-pale skin. 8 There were literally thousands of such so-called “Blue-Eyed Indians” along the mid-Atlantic coast alone, 9 and they were there at first contact. The light skin of Natives of the Northeast was common knowledge, and often-mentioned, before racism laid its death-grip around the European throat. 10 It wasn’t until 1795 that the notion of Europeans as the only light-skinned people on earth became a touchstone racist fantasy, pushed by Johann Friederick Blumenbach’s influential “science” of race. 11

Cooper was one of the folks who knew about “white Indians” and mentioned them often. Indeed, he alluded to them several times in the course of the Leather- Stocking Tales, quoting contemporary explanations for their presence. All explanations were tinged with contemporary racism, favoring the notion that Europeans had, somehow, gotten into the mix. The three main explanations of his day featured the French, the Welsh and last, wayward “Yankees” as the intermingling culprits. Cooper knew the theories and mentioned them all. 12

As racism grew in intensity in the new United States, Euro-Americans began to wax a bit hysterical over the number of left-over (and newly created!) mixed bloods in their midst, especially any lurking about undetected. Intensifying the frenzy was something Euro-Americans knew, though they seldom acknowledged: that amalgamation between themselves and the light-skinned woodlanders resulted quickly and easily in passable offspring, frequently with the first “cross.” Unwilling to admit that they simply could not tell when someone was “passing for white,” nervous racists devised eye-tests of identity by which a clever European observer could ferret out anyone’s “true” racial identity at a glance. Based on the checklist originally supplied by Blumenbach — who had never seen most of the people he presumed to describe — the litmus test turned European tastes in beauty into benchmarks of racial identification. 13

Cooper made Natty flunk the litmus test rather resoundingly, the source of his “ugliness.” Natty was tall and slender, lanky and angular, with gray eyes, a low forehead, a wide mouth, straight hair and sunnable skin. These were ominous attributes in Cooper’s time. They testified to Native ancestry. It is worth mentioning that Natty as described would not be deemed ugly today, but ruggedly handsome. The 1992 movie version of The Last of the Mohicans misconstrued many elements of the novel, but casting Daniel Day Lewis as Natty was not one of its errors. Lewis’s appearance in the film came very close to Cooper’s descriptions of Hawkeye.

Interestingly, when pressed, Natty himself defined his identity behaviorally rather than biologically. His definition of “white” was entirely cultural and relative. He emphasized over and over that it was his behavior, as opposed to himself, that was European: “My gifts are white,” he insisted, “I am of a Christian stock.” 14 Such claims, repeated over and over in the Tales, refer to human value systems, not inherent biological traits, for Christians come in all colors while European behavioral standards are learned, not acquired genetically — Natty’s own point. More importantly, Natty studied cultural differences so that he might consciously affect “white” behavior. His habit was to scrutinize behavioral options for their Native or European bent, then take the European tack. It was a yeoman effort requiring far more thought than any of Cooper’s other “white” characters ever put on the matter.

Natty was unable to alter his education, however, remaining “as illiterate as a Mohawk,” having “never willingly passed a day within reach of a spelling book” and having “never read a book in [his] life.” 15 There were inescapable repercussions attached to illiteracy for, to Europeans, illiteracy in a professed Christian was one sure sign of a questionable heritage. Even the redoubtable Esther Bush could make out her Bible, while a simpleton like Hetty Hutter was taught to read specifically so that she might peruse hers. Aware of all this, Natty was ashamed of his illiteracy, admitting it reluctantly. In The Deerslayer, simple Hetty put words to Natty’s predicament, “Only think of that; a white man, and not know how to read his Bible, even! He never could have had a mother, sister!” 16 Yet, as Cooper had carefully made clear two hundred-odd pages earlier in the same novel, Natty had both a mother and a sister. In that day when it was the pious colonial woman’s duty to impart at least functional literacy to her male relatives the better to inculcate Christian values, the implication was that Natty’s mother and sister — and, by logical extension, Natty himself — were not European.

The scattered tidbits on Natty’s personal history, as provided in the Tales, are even more suggestive than his personal appearance and habits. The most succinct biography of Natty came from the lips of Oliver Edwards in The Pioneers. Natty:

was reared in the family of my grandfather [Major Effingham]; served him for many years during their campaigns at the west, where he became attached to the woods; and he was left here as a kind of locum tenens on the lands that old Mohegan (whose life my grandfather once saved) induced the Delawares to grant to him, when they admitted him as an honorary member of their tribe. 17

The coherence of this account is deceptive for, in substance, it conflicts in almost every detail with what Natty had to say of himself throughout the five Tales — other references in The Pioneers inclusive. On the other hand, Natty’s self-information is internally consistent. The distinctions between Oliver’s account and Natty’s account are highly suggestive of concealment.

According to Natty, he lived with his parents, whom he loved “when they was living,” until he was orphaned, at which time he took up residence with the Delaware. 18 Geographically, Natty said that he had been born “nigh York,” but it was not, as so often supposed, the York of England, as related references make clear. 19 Natty gave his York as the one abutting the Catskills, a range he remembered seeing “to the left” up the “river from York.” 21 There are no Catskill Mountains up the river from York, England. Moreover, Natty stated that, although his life had “been passed in the woods,” his “eyes were first opened on the shores of the eastern sea.” 21 His “eastern sea” had to have been the Atlantic Ocean, which is the “western sea,” if one’s starting point were England. Natty was clearly from New York. He had been born along the mid-Atlantic coast, from which his family soon moved inland.

In addition to the place, the year of Natty’s birth can also be pieced together. In The Deerslayer set “between the years 1740 and 1745,” Natty was twenty-ish, implying that he had been born around 1720. 22 The Last of the Mohicans was set in 1757, when Natty was still in vigorous middle age, while The Pathfinder, set “in the year 175-,” depicted Natty as “well advanced towards forty.” 23 Again, this placed his birth at around 1720. In The Pioneers, spanning the year 1793, Natty claimed to be “threescore and ten,” which he quickly amended to seventy-one. 24 This adjusted his birth slightly forward to the year 1722. 25

Natty might have opened his eyes on the mid-Atlantic coast, but living with the Catskills in sight pushed him two hundred miles further inland and to the northwest: Natty was in the heart of Iroquoia when he looked up the river to the Catskills. Between 1722 and 1733, the people retreating inland from the mid-Atlantic coast to the sanctuary of Iroquoia were the Delaware. A child wound up residing with the Delaware refugees in Iroquoia in exactly one of two ways: S/he was adopted in after being taken captive in a mourning war, or s/he was a born Delaware. Had Natty been taken captive during a raid, he would surely have mentioned this stunning fact at some point in his many reminiscences. He made no such mention. The only other explanation for his life among the Delaware was access by birth; one of his parents had to have been Native.

Natty’s tenure with the Delaware can also be deduced. The Leather-Stocking Tales clearly indicate that Natty was a child when he was orphaned and went to the Delaware. In The Deerslayer, Natty (then twenty) claimed to have been living with the Delaware for the last “ten years.” 26 Using the mean year of 1743 for The Deerslayer and 1722 for the year of his birth, Natty took up residence with the Delaware in 1733, when he was eleven years old. Alternatively, by 1803, the year of The Prairie, Natty had been on his parentless trail for “seventy and five years,” “living in the bosom of natur’” for seventy.” 27 This would place the year of his first residence with the Delaware between 1728 and 1733. Assuming the 1722 birth date, Natty was between the ages of six and eleven when he went to the Delaware. This account fits with Natty’s information that Chingachgook was his “’arliest and latest friend,” meaning that they had been fast friends since first meeting in boyhood. 28 It also made Natty and Chingachgook approximately the same age. Chingachgook had, himself, been born circa 1720, 29 bearing out this assumption.

Thus, Natty was not a grown man at the time the Delaware took him in, as Oliver indicated, but still a child. Furthermore, since Chingachgook and Natty met as children, it was long before Chingachgook was a sitting member of the council, which admitted only mature adults. As a child, Chingachgook was in no position to “induce” the sachems to grant another child land, let alone to instruct them to adopt Natty, something that no male, grown or otherwise, was ever empowered to do: The clan mothers, alone, decided who was to be adopted. Even in early adulthood, Chingachgook would not have had a seat on the council. He would have been among “the young men,” a term usually mis/translated as “warriors” in western sources. 31 Under all woodlands governments, the young men were under the direction of their civil sachems and clan mothers — not the other way around. (Cooper knew that, for he depicted that “young man,” Magua, as submitting to the judgment of the Tamenund.) Even as a “young man” (as opposed to a child), Chingachgook was in no position to “induce” the council to grant Natty land, for the land belonged exclusively to the gantowisas (the women). Thus, Oliver’s account of Natty’s “locum tenens” was completely specious.

However he came to be in Iroquoia, Natty was clear on one point: He had been indoctrinated by the Moravians. Natty’s frequent allusions to his Moravian education represent another set of claims more likely to be glossed over than contemplated by modem readers. Yet, it was a vitally important identity clue in Cooper’s time. According to The Deerslayer, set in 1743, Natty had just left the Moravian congregation. 31 Perhaps the most salient point in the Natty-Moravian link was the fact that the Moravians in America did not minister to settler congregations. Their missionaries only proselytized Natives. Any European among them was, like John Heckewelder, Moravian before ever reaching American soil. Only in the later years of the mission might a European be born Moravian in America, but that was in a period well after Natty’s contact with the missionaries. In historical context, then, Natty’s Moravian connection perks up with more meaning than just the spiritual devotion that modem critics attach to it. First and foremost, it ruled Natty out as a settler child at the same time it classed him as a Native child.

Again contrary to Oliver’s biography, Natty never spoke of living with or being reared by Major Effingham, although he was deeply attached to the old man and had campaigned with him as an adult. Instead, Natty stated that he had been born “of honest parents” with whom he lived till they died. 32 At that point, he went to the Delaware. Beyond this, Hawkeye made stray, noncommittal references to his father but, of his mother, the reader only heard once, and that once, but obliquely, for the pertinent description focused on Natty’s emotional impressions, not on facts. The revelation came at the poignant moment in The Deerslayer when he stepped into Muskrat Castle and was unexpectedly flooded with memories of his mother — and a sister. 33 One wonders about this sister, never acknowledged yet so achingly recalled. How did she come to be so absent from Natty’s life? Was it because she had chosen a Native identity path?

In any discussion of Natty’s mother, the absolute dearth of European women on the so-called frontier must be considered. As late as “175-,” the year of The Pathfinder, Mabel Dunham was “the only marriageable white female on the frontier,” and she resided in a populous fort. 34 When Natty was born between 1716 and 1722, there were even fewer “marriageable white females” lurking about in the backwoods, let alone, in the heart of Iroquoia. Who, therefore, was his mother? How did she and his father meet? Who, indeed, was his father? The only way to reconcile Oliver’s account of Natty’s origins with Natty’s accounts of himself is to posit Major Effingham as Natty’s father — an intriguing possibility I do not have time to discuss here today.

The only point on which the accounts of Natty and Oliver agreed was that Natty had served with the Major as an adult, a racially neutral claim. Even so, Natty could not always have been with the Major, for Natty had “seen the inimy in the ‘seventy-six business,” i.e., the Revolutionary War in which the Major and his son, Edward, sided with England. 35 As Tories, both Effinghams would have been “the inimy” that Natty had “seen” in the War!

On all other points, Natty’s and Oliver’s accounts were at wide variance, with Oliver’s version failing miserably to square with any other account of Natty given anywhere else in the Leather-Stocking Tales. The reasons for Oliver’s fudging were obvious: The implications of the facts as Natty related them were profoundly suggestive of racial mixture.

This fact quickly and obviously answers the supposed riddle of Natty’s bachelorhood. I’ve seen many strange interpretations of Natty’s unwed state, all based on oblivion of the social limitations a “half-breed” faced. A Native Natty could never marry. Should a European woman agree to many an openly Other man, she was unceremoniously expelled from “white” society. This was bad enough, but it was literally suicidal for a passing man to toy with a European woman, especially if she were not in on the secret of his racial identity. The upshot could be shot dead. A Native Natty was alone simply because the alternative was too dangerous to attempt.

It is not necessary, then, to look to allegory, mythopoetry, or a thousand metaphysical mumblings to unravel the meaning of Natty Bumppo. We need only take an unflinching look at the historical and social facts of Natty’s condition as Cooper presented them in The Leather-Stocking Tales and to stop acting as if no one had ever heard of self-hating among despised minorities. Natty lived in a time of volatile political transitions, particularly on the score of racial identity. Were he to survive, even along the fringe of settlement, he had to tread carefully, watching his self-disclosures and avoiding the company of any close relatives — say a Delaware mother and sister. In the heated broth of frontier politics, “half-breeds” could be, and frequently were, shot on sight. As a cast-off cross-blood passing for “white,” Natty necessarily lived and died alone in the only place that he could simultaneously stand and hide, those nooks and crannies of the ever-shrinking “middle ground” of European invasion.


1 As all Cooper scholars know, Cooper relied upon the copious writings of the Moravian missionary, John Heckewelder, History. Manners, and Customs of the Indian Nations Who Once Inhabited Pennsylvania and the Neighboring States [1820, 1876] (New York: Arno Press and The New York Times {The First American Frontier Series} 1971) and Narrative of the Mission of the United Brethren among the Delaware and Mohegan Indians from Its Commencement. in the Year 1740, to the Close of the Year 1808 [1818] (New York: Arno Press, 1971). For an extended discussion of Cooper and Heckewelder, see my dissertation: Barbara A. Mann, Forbidden Ground: Racial Politics and Hidden Identity in James Fenimore Cooper’s Leather-Stocking Tales , University of Toledo, 1997.

2 Thomas Jefferson waxed quite eloquent on this in 1815, supplying a correspondent with a convoluted mathematical formula for counting the steps to generational purity (a formula that, amusingly enough, would have allowed any children of his by Sally Hemmings to have passed for white). For the formula, reproduced in its neurotic entirety, see Fawn Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1974), pp. 433-434.

3The rule of recognition holds that any person whose black-African ancestry is visible is black. The rule of descent holds that any person with a known trace of African ancestry is black, notwithstanding that person’s visual appearance, or, stated differently, that the offspring of a black and a white is black.” The rules were the same for Native American-European crosses. Neil Gotanda, “A Critique of’ ‘Our Constitution Is Color-Blind’”, Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement, ed. Kimberlé Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller, and Kendall Thomas (New York: The New Press, 1995), p. 258.

4 James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers. Or The Sources of the Susquehanna. A Descriptive Tale [1823] (New York: A Signet Classic, 1980): Natty as Native: features, pp. 19, 21; behavior, skills and lifestyle, pp. 25, 80, 107, 158, 177, 178, 213, 225, 257-258, 279, 284-287; attitudes, pp. 149, 237, 253-254, 321, 340; as “white”, pp. 278, 410, 421, 433.

5 James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans. A Narrative of 1757 [1826] (New York: A Signet Classic, l980): claims, pp. 35; 40; 73; 83; 90; 91; 92; 138; 142; 143; 148; 216; 217; 224; 227; 233; 314; 316; 318; 353; 373; quotation, p. 40.

6 James Fenimore Cooper, The Deerslayer. Or The First Warpath [1841] (New York: Bantam Classics, 1982): pp. 20, 48, 49, 65, 66, 69, 80, 95, 96, 99, 100, 101, thrice on 103, twice on 106, 111, 116, 134, twice on 135, 136, 186, 189, 190, 191, 195, 199, 211, 214, 219, 221, 239, 265, thrice on 266, 271, twice on 272, 274, 276, 352, 360, 370, 373, 381, 383, 396, 397, 400, 403, twice on 404, 405, 417, 419, 421, twice on 424, 432, 433, thrice on 436, 447, 448, twice on 451, 458, and 476.

7 J. Leitch Wright, The Only Land They Knew: The Tragic Story of the American Indians in the Old South (New York: The Free Press, a Division of Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1981), p. 18.

8 Anthony F.C. Wallace, The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), p. 6.

9 Wright, The Only Land They Knew, p. 42.

10 In 1632-33, Father Le Jeune, a French Jesuit missionary to the Iroquoian peoples, noted that “their natural color is like that of those French beggas who are half-roasted in the sun, and I have no doubt that the Savages would be very white if they were well covered,” Reuben Gold Thwaites, ed. and trans., Les Relations de éJésuites, or The Jesuit Relations: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France 1610-1791 , vol. 5 (New York: Pageant Book Company, 1959) p. 23. Father Eusebio Kino, a Spanish Jesuit missionary in Mexico from 1681 till his death in 1711, heard Pima and Yuma stories of light-skinned Native peoples living farther north along the Atlantic seaboard, Herbert Eugene Bolton, The Rim of Christendom: A Biography of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific Coast Pioneer [1936] (New York: Russell and Russell, 1960) p. 418. Amadas and Barlowe, two early British explorers, recorded that the people of the Northeast were “of colour yellowish” and that their children ‘had very fine auburne and chestnut coloured haire,” Henry S. Burrage, D.D., ed., Early English and French Voyages. Chiefly from Hakluyt. 1534-1608 [1906] (New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc. {Original Narratives of Early American History} 1967) pp. 232-233. Another early English account, “Brereton’s Brief and True Relation” (1602), documented Native “complexion or colour, much like a darke Olive,” Burrage, ed., Early English and French Voyages, pp. 338-339.

11 His primary work was a revised version of his dissertation of 1775. It was not popularly distributed until 1795, when it became all the rage. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, On the Natural Varieties of Mankind (De Generis Humani Varietate Nativa) [1775, 1795, 1865] (New York: Bergman Publishers, 1969). See also his influential Beyträge zur Naturgescichte (“Contributions to Natural History“) [1806], in On the Natural Varieties of Mankind (De Generis Humani Varietate Nativa), 1775, 1795, 1865 (New York: Bergman Publishers, 1969).

12 In The Prairie, he renewed the fable of “a nation of Welshers” to account for “the lightfaced redskins” known to inhabit North America. James Fenimore Cooper, The Prairie, A Tale [1827] (New York: A Signet Classic, 1980), pp. 198-199. By far, however, the favorite explanation laid the “blame” for all crossed blood on the French. “The ‘metifs,’ or half-breeds, who claimed to be ranked in the class of white men, were scattered among the different Indian tribes or gleaned a scanty livelihood in solitude amid the haunts of the beaver and the bison,” Cooper, The Prairie, p. 111. The most impolite theory blamed early English settlers. It was the only theory that Cooper delivered conversationally, as opposed to authorially. Natty, himself, brought it up in The Pioneers, mourning the lost Natives of Glimmerglass: “to think that not a redskin is left of them all; unless it be a drunkard vagabond from the Oneidas, or them Yankee Indians, who, they say, be moving up from the seashore; and who belong to none of God’s creaters, to my seeming, being, as it were, neither fish nor flesh — neither white man nor savage. ... ” (italics mine). Cooper, The Pioneers, p. 432.

13 Blumenbach, On the Natural Varieties of Mankind, pp. 246-257.

14 Cooper, The Deerslayer, p. 100.

15 James Fenimore Cooper, The Pathfinder, Or The Inland Sea [1840] (New York: A Signet Classic, 1980), p. 273.

16 Cooper, The Deerslayer, p. 282.

17 Cooper, The Pioneers, p. 421.

18 Cooper, The Deerslayer, pp. 502, 504.

19 Cooper, The Pioneers, p. 197.

20 Cooper, The Pioneers, p. 279; The Prairie, pp. 63, 260.

21 Cooper, The Prairie, pp. 23, 260.

22 Cooper, The Deerslayer, p. 2.

23 Cooper, The Pathfinder, pp. 36, 132.

24 Cooper, The Pioneers, pp. 14, 264, 354, 357.

25 Towards the close of The Prairie, set in 1803, however, Natty gave his exact age as eighty-seven, pushing his birth back to the year 1716, Cooper, The Prairie, pp. 1, 327. This date seems anomalous, however, as it would have made Natty twenty-seven in 1743, the mean year of The Deerslayer, an age in emphatic conflict with Cooper’s statement that Natty was “several years” the junior of Hurry Harry, Cooper, The Deerslayer, p. 5. Thus, Natty was most probably born in 1722, although perhaps as early as 1716.

26 Cooper, The Deerslayer, p. 6.

27 Cooper, The Prairie, pp. 24, 260.

28 Cooper, The Deerslayer, p. 130.

29 In The Pioneers, set in 1793, Chingachgook is represented as being “past seventy,” meaning that he was born circa 1720, Cooper, The Pioneers, p. 391.

30 For a typical Native sachems’ reference to “the young men,” see Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians. Empires. and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) pp. 501-502. By the way, in notifying the British that they “couldn’t control” the “young men,” the sachems were not admitting governmental incompetence, but delivering a threat: Back off, or we unleash our troops.

31 Historically, the advance Moravian guard first contacted the Haudenosaunee, Mahicans and Delaware in 1740, while the Moravians arrived en masse in Pennsylvania to begin working with the Delaware in 1743, by which time Natty was already around twenty years of age. Although most sources cite the winter of 1742-1743 as the inception date of the Delaware Mahican mission, Edwin Stockton correctly notes that the first two missionaries actually staked out the grounds in 1740. Edwin L. Stockton, Jr., “The influence of the Moravians Upon the Leather-Stocking Tales,” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 20 (1964) p. 27. Clearly, there was a conflict in timing between historical fact and Leather-Stocking fiction. The most probable explanation for this dating glitch was that Cooper simply confused the arrival date of Moravians in North America with the inception date of their mission to the Delaware. The Moravians arrived in North America in 1734, a date that would have coincided neatly with the second year of Natty’s residence among the Delaware. However, prior to setting up shop among the Delaware, they stopped off in the colony of Georgia for about ten years, Paul A. W. Wallace, “Introduction,” Thirty Thousand Miles with John Heckewelder (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1958) p. 24. Craig Atwood gives the year as 1735 in Blood. Sex and Death: Life and Liturgy in Zinzendorf’s Bethlehem, Diss. (Princeton Theological Seminary, 1995), p. 110. Although the Delaware did have trading links that extended as far south as Georgia, they did not themselves reside below the Chesapeake Bay before moving inland to Iroquoia, Ives Goddard, “Delaware,” Handbook of North American Indians. ed. Bruce G. Trigger, vol. 15, Northeast (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1978) pp. 220-221. Cooper would have had no reason to know the minutiae of church history, however; short of performing exhaustive scholarship on the Moravians, he would simply have assumed that, once arrived in 1734, the Moravians missionized the Delaware.

32 Cooper, The Pioneers, p. 197.

33 In Muskrat Castle, Tom Hutter’s houseboat, Natty saw women’s clothing strewn about and suddenly “bethought him of his mother, whose homely vestments he remembered to have seen hanging on pegs like those which he felt must belong to Hetty Hutter; and he bethought himself of a sister, whose incipient and native taste for finery had exhibited itself somewhat in the manner of that of Judith, though necessarily in a less degree,” (italics mine) Cooper, The Deerslayer, p. 26.

34 Cooper, The Pathfinder, p. 140.

35 Cooper, The Pioneers, pp. 32, 357.