FOR ALL THE CULTURAL BAGGAGE THEY CARRIED, THE COLONISTS who came to North America were not self-sufficient. Because the physical and human geographies of the New World were different--sometimes radically--from those they had left behind, some of their baggage had to be jettisoned and new ways found of coping with the necessities of social life. Fortunately, they found willing guides and instructors in the native peoples, as I learned in my initial foray into Indian history.
As The School upon a Hill was taking shape, it occurred to me that the New English not only educated their young in the ways of English Puritan culture but had to have been themselves educated in some of the ways of New England by the Indians. So I began to read--and in many cases, reread--the primary New England literature on Indian-white contact to see what forms the Indian education of the English took. Having been led by the Harvard school of Puritan historians to believe that New England culture was largely an intellectual import, I was surprised to discover several ways in which the imported culture was quickly and effectively Native-Americanized. At the same time, I discovered that I shouldn't have been surprised because anthropologists had long known that "acculturation" always occurs when two cultures meet. Both "discoveries" soon emerged as the last chapter of The School upon a Hill and as a separate article in the William and Mary Quarterly ( July 1972).