chapter  3
45 Pages

The Palimpsest of History

William Apess’s Anti-Jeremiad Jeremiad
ByEric Cheyfitz

Along with John Cotton's sermon Gods Promise to His Plantation, which was delivered to the Massachusetts Bay Settlers as they were embarking for the journey to America, A Model of Christian Charity is one prototype for the literary genre known as the American jeremiad, which generates the narrative of American Exceptionalism. The anti-jeremiad jeremiad is simultaneously inside and outside the Puritan jeremiad tradition. In William Apess's anti-jeremiad jeremiad, King Philip is "the greatest man that ever lived upon the American shores". In the Eulogy, Apess does list a number of land transactions between Philip and various Puritan buyers, which he takes from Samuel Gardner Drake's Biography and History. Historian Richard Cogley ventures that the writer of Philip's letter to Governor Prince was John Sassamon, a Massachusett-speaking, Christian Indian who, educated at an Indian school run by Harvard, was literate in English.