The archival document that I chose was titled “Yarico to Inkle” describing Yarico’s pain and torture at the hands of Inkle’s betrayal. This poem was published in 1792 in Philadelphia in a magazine called “The American Museum or Universal Magazine” primarily targeted to more wealthy people who could afford magazine subscriptions. It was written by an author who went by the name “Amicus”. This poem is extremely emotional and talks about the loss that Yarico has had to go through with the death of her newborn baby and the loss of her freedom. She states that with the baby’s death, they will never have to know the pain of being born into slavery and that is the one assurance she has throughout all the tragedy. She also touches on how Inkle’s betrayal is rooted in his privilege as a white man saying “you see your country, and your friends again” while she is trapped in the chains of slavery.
The first thing I did was transcribing the document into a text document. I then copy and pasted the text through the WordCount database. WordCount allows you to see which words and phrases show up the most in your text. The top words in “Yarico to Inkle” were “Inkle”, “captive”, “slave”, “taught”, “led”, “heaven”, “love”, “maid”, “native”, “unfeeling”, “hope”, “Yarico”, “eyes” and “fate”. This was with me ignoring case and stop words. These words alone create a good generalization of what the themes in this text are about. If I apply case and stop words into the WordCount, then the top words change into “I”, “you”, “my”, “the” and “your”. This is a very different result than the previous WordCount, but it does show how personal this poem is since Yarico is speaking from her point of view.
Using WordCount again, I decided to try and see what the top words were in the Gutenberg version of “Inkle and Yarico” which is a very different text than the poem. I found more common words found in conversations and talking like “sir” and “shall” along with names such as “Inkle”, “Yarico” and “Narcissa”. This makes sense since this version is a play and the version in the previous archival document is a poem. The main difference between the earlier versions of “Inkle and Yarico” that we read in class and this poem called “Yarico to Inkle” is that it is from Yarico’s point of view and we get to hear her thoughts on Inkle’s betrayal and how her life has fallen apart since then, it is more personal and emotional since it is centered around one person and their experiences.
I decided that my research question for this specific poem would be if there was any connection to “Yarico and Inkle” and the historical events happening in the year that it was published. In 1792, the United States Army was fighting in the Northwest Indian War, also known as The Ohio War. It was the US Army versus several Native American tribes fighting for the land that would come to be known as Ohio. This was interesting to me because I am from Cleveland, Ohio. To analyze if this research question was true, I decided to look up some archival newspaper coverage of the war and found an article published in February of 1792, only a few months before “Yarico to Inkle” was published. It was also published in a magazine from Philadelphia, the same city that the poem was published in. It is from the Secretary of War of the United States and is titled “The causes of the existing hostilities between the United States, and certain tribes of Indians north-west of the Ohio, stated and explained from official and documents, and published in obedience to the orders of the President of the United States.”. I decided to look at the language in these two texts and see how many similarities there were in how they referenced the Native American tribes and the war.
One of the first things that I noticed was that the language towards Native American tribes were quite racist in both of these texts. In the 1792 statement about the war, there is a lot of pro-US Army language, as well as degrading language towards Native Americans. It states, “It is yet too recent to have been forgotten, that great numbers of inoffensive men, women and children, fell a sacrifice to the barbarous warfare practiced by the Indians, and that many others were dragged into deplorable captivity.”. The poem “Yarico to Inkle” has Yarico state that she was “born of a savage race” which is a term rooted in racism. This magazine article from the US government is an example of being fed racist stereotypes through a “reliable” source that many people trust like the news or the Secretary of War. There is also a lot of language trying to justify the situation from the United States’ perspective. The statement from the Secretary of War goes on to say that “these aggressions [from the Native American tribes] were completely unprovoked” but meanwhile the US army was trying to kick these Native American tribes off their land. This article continues to feed fear mongering news that Native tribes killed and took prisoner 1,500 people including women and children. Further statements read that “the General Government could no longer abstain from attempting to punish the hostile Indians” and much more racist language. “Yarico to Inkle” continues to have lines like “where the fierce Indian never learnt to rove” which perpetuates similar harmful language and stereotypes. “Yarico to Inkle” also does not fully pick a side on the issue of slavery. It seems to be a little sympathetic towards Yarico but then uses racist language to describe Native Americans which tells us the author’s true feelings towards the situation.
In conclusion, I definitely think that because of the war going on at the time, it did influence different versions of “Inkle and Yarico” that were released within that era and this poem does fall into harmful stereotypes and racist language towards Native Americans. While “Yarico to Inkle” does seem like at first it is in favor of Yarico, the racist language of describing Native Americans as “a savage race” show us what this author really thought. For the metadata tags, I believe that stating the date, publication and genre of the text helps give an introductory glance at what a person is about to read. As well as adding point of view for analysis and details about Yarico’s race to help get further historical knowledge on the terrible treatment of Native Americans during the 18th century.
Word count: 1170 words
Date: June of 1792
Publication location: Philadelphia
Point of view: Yarico
Yarcio’s race: Native American