King Philip's War

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King Philip's War,

1675–76, the most devastating war between the colonists and the Native Americans in New England. The war is named for King Philip, the son of MassasoitMassasoit
, c.1580–1661, chief of the Wampanoag. His name was Ousamequin (spelled in various ways); Massasoit is a title of leadership. One of the most powerful native rulers of New England, he went to Plymouth in 1621 and signed a treaty with the Pilgrims, which he
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 and chief of the WampanoagWampanoag
, confederation of Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). In the early 17th cent.
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. His Wampanoag name was Pumetacom, Metacom, or Metacomet. Upon the death (1662) of his brother, Alexander (Wamsutta), whom the Native Americans suspected the English of murdering, Philip became sachem and maintained peace with the colonists for a number of years. Hostility eventually developed over the steady succession of land sales forced on the Native Americans by their growing dependence on English goods. Suspicious of Philip, the English colonists in 1671 questioned and fined him and demanded that the Wampanoag surrender their arms, which they did. In 1675 a Christian Native American who had been acting as an informer to the English was murdered, probably at Philip's instigation. Three Wampanoags were tried for the murder and executed. Incensed by this act, the Native Americans in June, 1675, made a sudden raid on the border settlement of Swansea. Other raids followed; towns were burned and many whites—men, women, and children—were slain. Unable to draw the Native Americans into a major battle, the colonists resorted to similar methods of warfare in retaliation and antagonized other tribes. The Wampanoag were joined by the Nipmuck and by the NarragansettNarragansett
, Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Part of the Eastern Woodlands culture (see under Natives, North American), in the early 17th cent.
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 (after the latter were attacked by the colonists), and soon all the New England colonies were involved in the war. Philip's cause began to decline after he made a long journey west in an unsuccessful attempt to secure aid from the Mohawk. In 1676 the Narragansett were completely defeated and their chief, Canonchet, was killed in April of that year; the Wampanoag and Nipmuck were gradually subdued. Philip's wife and son were captured, and he was killed (Aug., 1676) by a Native American in the service of Capt. Benjamin Church after his hiding place at Mt. Hope (Bristol, R.I.) was betrayed. His body was drawn and quartered and his head exposed on a pole in Plymouth. The war, which was extremely costly to the colonists in people and money, resulted in the virtual extermination of tribal Native American life in S New England and the disappearance of the fur trade. The New England Confederation then had the way completely clear for white settlement.


See G. M. Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip's War (1891, 3d ed. 1906, repr. 1967); G. W. Ellis and J. E. Morris, King Philip's War (1906); J. T. Adams, The Founding of New England (1921, repr. 1963); D. E. Leach, Flintlock and Tomahawk (1958, repr. 1966); R. Bourne, The Red King's Rebellion (1990); J. Lepore, The Name of War (1998); D. R. Mandell, King Philip's War (2010).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Indeed, when King Phillip's War broke out in 1675, the Indians were united, and the result was the almost total destruction of the English frontier settlements.
Track 17, "Metacomet (King Phillip)" pays respect to the 17th-century Wampanoag chief who fought British colonists in what became known as King Phillip's War, a pivotal event in New England history, while Track 9, "Wawanolet (Song for Greylock)" refers to the 18th-century chief of the Abenakis who similarly fought colonial settlers.
Williams was a longtime ally of various tribes, and his writings about Indians--and his open and honest commercial dealings with them--offer a tragically ignored alternative to the bloody and brutal warfare that would mark the European settlement of North America (he unsuccessfully attempted to broker peace in King Phillip's War, the first extended conflict between Englishmen and Indians).
Lepore, The Name of War: King Phillip's War and the Origins of American Identity (New York, 1998), 384 pp.
Countering traditional historiographical assertions that the invaders separated themselves from Indians, she reveals that indigenous servants (captured as a result of war, most notably the Pequot and King Phillip's Wars) helped create a "hybrid" society that made English households central locations for cross-cultural exchange.