King Philip's War: the Unavoidable Conflict

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  • Topic: King Philip's War, Plymouth Colony, Massasoit
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  • Published : March 11, 2013
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King Philip's War: The Unavoidable Conflict
War between the Indians and the Colonists was unavoidable from the very moment the Pilgrims first set foot on what was to eventually become Massachusetts in 1620. As more and more settlers began arriving over the years, tension between the two began to steadily rise. The settler's insatiable hunger for land and their increasing mistreatment of the Indians began to break down an already somewhat fragile alliance between the two. The Indians were quickly losing land and their way of life as well to these new settlers and some of them believed the only way to stop this was to go on the offensive and push back them back. The result of this was a short fought war known as King Philip's War. Though it only lasted a little over a year, it was an exceptionally brutal war that took a huge toll life wise and had a lasting impact on both the English and the Indians for many years to come. After landing in what is now known as Plymouth, some of the first Indians that the Pilgrims encountered were the Wampanoag's. They were led by their chief Massasoit and eventually the Indians and Pilgrims formed an alliance. As a result of this alliance, both parties promised not to attack or harm one or another, and if something did happen, then the offender would be turned over to the ones harmed. Also, they would give assistance to each other if they should find themselves under attack (Rich 1-8). From the beginning, this alliance was somewhat uneasy, and it was obvious that politics on both sides was the main factor for forging it and played a major role leading up to and during the actual war. For the Pilgrim's, they absolutely needed the help of the Indians. They were on their own, over three thousand miles from the nearest help, and struggling to survive in this new land. The Indians on the other hand needed the Pilgrim's to increase their security. Because of disease that dwindled their numbers, they were always under the threat of attack from other warring tribes and needed the Pilgrim's and their weapons to defeat them. For almost forty years, the Wampanoag and the Colonists maintained this increasingly uneasy peace until Massasoit's death sometime around 1660 (Schultz and Tougais 14). During this time Massasoit sold a lot of land to the English. It would seem he did so to maintain the peace and also because he probably didn't want the Wampanoag's to go the way of the Pequot's. Around 1634 a tribe known as the Pequot's went to war with the colonist's in Connecticut over trade disputes and were almost completely wiped out (Drake 27-29). With the deaths of most of the original Plymouth colonists and the passing of Massasoit, the alliance which had maintained peace between the two very different groups was gone forever. After the death of Massasoit, his two sons Wamsutta and his younger brother Metacom went to Plymouth and asked that the Pilgrims give them Christian names. Wamsutta was named Alexander and Metacom became Philip. Since Wamsutta was the first born he became chief of the Wampanoag following his father's death. Wamsutta was soon accused of making war plans against the colonist's and also of selling land to the settlers cast out of Plymouth and living in Rhode Island. In 1662 the colonists demanded he appear before them and sent an armed party to fetch him. During this time, Wamsutta suddenly fell ill and died shortly thereafter. Many Wampanoag strongly believed that he had been poisoned by the colonists and they wanted to retaliate but were talked out of it by their new chief, Metacom. Metacom certainly believed that Wamsutta had been killed at the hands of the colonists but probably felt that now wasn't the time to push the issue (Schultz and Tougais 22-24). As the colonies grew larger they began to band together which in turn weakened the Indians influence on them. The Indians were no longer needed for their aid nor their goods and all they had to offer was their land. Metacom...
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