Arts + Culture

Indian Captive, Indian King: Peter Williamson’s American Odyssey

Aug 25, 2018 - Aug 25, 2018 | 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, Pa 15222

In June 1758, Peter Williamson appeared in Aberdeen, Scotland in the dress of an American Indian and telling a fantastic tale. He claimed he had been kidnapped from the city as a child, sold into slavery in North America, taken captive by Delaware Indians, and eventually repatriated to Britain as a prisoner of war. Aberdeen’s magistrates arrested and exiled him, but Williamson used the courts and press to expose Aberdeen’s “kidnapping trade,” and he eventually settled in Edinburgh, where he cultivated a local reputation as “king of the Indians.”

In this talk, Dr. Timothy Shannon will unravel the fact from fiction in Williamson’s Odyssey and use it to illustrate how working people in eighteenth-century Britain exploited an empire that was built on exploiting them.

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