Pulling Together to Falling Apart:
An Analysis of King Philip’s War
American History 1301
Instructor Angela Ragan
The tale of how our country came to be has been told time and time again in our history books as a story of courage, bravery, sacrifice, and then finally, triumph. Brave Englishmen sailing to the New World and ridding the land of the ruthless savages residing inside of it and valiantly stomping through the unknown wilderness claiming lands has inspired the American spirit for centuries. However, this long told famous tale scarcely mentions the important roles and participation of the Native Americans contributing in shaping our country today. King Philip’s War, also known as Metacom’s Rebellion, was neither the first nor would it be the last settler to savage dispute. Being in proportion the bloodiest and most gruesome battle in American History, it is surprising to know that this war is also one of the most forgotten ones, too. (Native Peoples 50) In the course of only 3 short years, King Philip’s War completely reshaped and reformed the Northeast area of New England. The war caused the destruction of many English settlements and decimated Indian cultural groups from their ancestral homeland already affected by decades of colonial settlement and foreign diseases. (The Journal of American History 975) “By proportion of population, it [the war] inflicted greater casualties than any other war in American History, and with more than the usual atrocities. Men, women, even children, white and Indian, were killed.” (Native Peoples 50) The extravagant loss in population of both the Indians and the English settlers greatly affected the nation. Nearly half of all Puritan settlements in New England were attacked with their whole towns burned to the ground. In population proportion, the Native Americans lost ten times as many men than the Englishmen, not to mention the thousands more sold into slavery. Before King Philip’s War began, the great Indian chief Massasoit worked hard to keep the relationship between the Native Americans and Englishmen fair, humble, and free of conflict. Generously welcoming the Puritans and aiding the starving men and women, then joining the two in what later would be known as the First Thanksgiving was more than kind of the Wampanoag’s. However, the Indians tribes and Massasoit’s kindness towards the helpless Puritans is typically ignored when learning of the Wampanoag’s history today. Once Massasoit passed away, however, the Englishmen began becoming worse at honoring their peaceful and fair relationship with the Wampanoag’s as they grew larger and stronger. Massasoit’s son, Metacomet, known as Philip to the Englishmen, took over as chief and under his rule did the war begin. The ever-growing tension between the Englishmen and Native Americans lasted for decades until finally reaching its breaking point in 1675. In late January, Sassamon, fearing for his life, admitted to telling Governor Josiah Winslow of Metacom’s conspiracy with other tribes to wipe of the English. Although the Governor did not take Sassamon all too seriously, three Wampanoag men still murdered Sassamon and left his body in a river bank. The war itself began on June 24 of that year, when two adolescent members of the New England colonies shot and wounded an Indian. Upon learning this, the Native Americans struck back towards the Englishmen. In a rage, the Wampanoag Indians “exercised more than brutish barbarians; beheading, dismembering, and mangling” as recorded by Benjamin Church. Through the murders of many Englishmen, King Philip’s War had begun. (American History 62) The night of the attack a full moon shown itself and the Native Americans saw this as a good omen in response to attacking the Englishmen. Soon thereafter, on June 28th, colonists from Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay retaliated against the Native Americans, engaging more colonies...
Bibliography: McNAMEE, GREGORY. "Metacom 's Rebellion Or King Philip 's War." Native Peoples Magazine 23.6 (2010): 50. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 1 Oct. 2014.
McCue, Michael Westaway. "The Soldier And The 'King '." American History 37.2 (2002): 44. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 1 Oct. 2014
DeLucia, Christine. "The Memory Frontier: Uncommon Pursuits Of Past And Place In The Northeast After King Philip 's War." Journal Of American History 98.4 (2012): 975-997. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Oct. 2014.
Lafantasie, Glenn W. "The Long Shadow Of King Philip." American History 39.1 (2004): 58. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 1 Oct. 2014.
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