Colonial America comprised many different cultural and political worlds. Most colonial Americans inhabited just one world, but today, we’re going to explore the life of a woman who lived in THREE colonial American worlds: Frontier New England, Northeastern Wabanaki, and Catholic New France.
Ann Little, an Associate Professor of History at Colorado State University and the author of The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright, leads us through the remarkable life of Esther Wheelwright, a woman who experienced colonial America as a Puritan New English girl, Wabanaki daughter, and Ursuline nun in Catholic New France.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
In this episode, Ann Little, an Associate Professor of History at Colorado State University and author of The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright, leads us on a journey through the remarkable life of Esther Wheelwright, a woman who lived lives in three different colonial American worlds.
During our journey, Ann reveals what life was like in Maine during the late 17th and early 18th centuries; Details about Wabanaki life and the Native American custom of captive taking; And the story of Esther Wheelwright and how she went from Puritan, New English girl to Mother Superior of the Ursuline religious order in Québec, New France.
What You’ll Discover
- Esther Wheelwright
- Maine in the late 17th and early 18th centuries
- Life in early Maine garrisons
- Information about the Algonquian peoples of northern New England & Lower Canada
- The Wabanaki Raid on Wells, Maine in August 1703
- Native American captive taking
- Wabanaki customs and life
- Québec in the early 18th century
- The role of religion in New France
- The Ursuline Order
- How Esther Wheelwright decided to join the Ursuline religious order
- Esther’s life and work with the Ursuline Order
- Opportunities Esther had as a nun vs. opportunities she would have had in a secular, colonial American life
- The Quebec Act of 1774
- Contact between Esther and the Wheelwright Family
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Ann Little
- Ann’s Blog, Historiann
- Ann’s Twitter handle: @Historiann
- The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright
- Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England
- C. Alice Baker, True Stories of New England Captives Carried to Canada During the Old French and Indian Wars
- Emma Lewis Coleman, New England Captives Carried to Canada
- Julie Wheelwright, Esther: The Remarkable True Story of Esther Wheelwright
- Episode 041: Bruno Paul Stenson, Canada & the American Revolution
- Episode 064: Brett Rushforth, Native American Slavery in New France
- Episode 073: Mark Noll, The Bible in Early America
- Episode 084: Zara Anishanslin: How Historians Read Historical Sources
- Episode 104: Andrew Lipman, The Saltwater Frontier: Europeans & Native Americans on the Northeastern Coast
Time Warp Question
In your opinion, what might have happened if the Governor of New France had sent Esther back to her New England family in 1708 or 1709? What do you think her life would have been like? Would it still be one worth knowing about?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
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Thanks, Liz! You’re such a good editor and make me sound coherent, so I’m very grateful!