The Introduction of alcohol to the Native Americans



Distrusting the Indians all along his journey though the river that now bears his namesake, Henry Hudson, the English explorer, determined to try an experiment which, by throwing them off their guard, would elicit any treachery which might be latent in their dispositions.

He accordingly invited several of the chiefs into the cabin, and gave them plenty of brandy to drink, so as to make them intoxicated. The result was that one got drunk, and fell sound asleep, to the great astonishment of this companions, who "could not tell how to take it." They all took suddenly to their canoes and hurried ashore, leaving their stupefied countryman behind them.

Their anxiety for his welfare soon induced them, however, to return with a quantity of beads which they gave him, to enable him, perhaps, to bribe or exorcise "the foul fiend" which had possession of him. The savage slept soundly all night, and was quite recovered from the effects of his debauch when his friends came to see him next day. So rejoiced were these people at finding their chief restored, as it were, to life, that they returned on board in crowds again in the afternoon, bringing tobacco and more beads, which they presented to Hudson, to whom they made an oration, showing him the country round about.

They then sent one of their company on land, who presently returned with a great platter of dressed venison, which they caused Hudson to eat with them; after which they made him profound reverence and departed, all save the old man, who, having had a taste of the fatal beverage, preferred to remain on board.

Such was the introduction among the Indians, by the first European that came among them, of that poison which, combined with other causes, has since operated to deprive their descendants of almost a foothold in their native land, and caused, within a few centuries, the almost entire extinction of the Red race.





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