Memoirs of Metacomet
How King Phillip influenced the New England colonists
Massasoit was Metacomet’s father and he was born in 1590 around Bristol, Rhode Island. He led the Wampanoag tribe as a sachem, or war chief in a direct line of succession for the family. His perspective was in keeping peace with the colonists. Consequently, as it was the beginning of the colonization period, he was able to maintain a sufficient level of peace among both groups of people for decades even such as making his way to Plymouth to start good relationships with the incoming settlers and teach them basic survival techniques such as: planting, fishing, and cooking. Massasoit’s intentions of peace were well met during his chiefdom and Pilgrims even helped him back to health after falling ill in the year 1623. His death, though, in 1661 led to a deteriorating state of friendly relations between the colonists and the settlers. Metacomet, being the second born in the family was not next in line, but the eldest son, Wamsutta (or Alexander as referred to by the English) died only one year after Massasoit in 1662 after being called to Plymouth Court for questioning where he then fell ill and died from supposed poisoning. Therefore, Metacomet became the next sachem for the Wampanoag tribe.
After his brother died in 1662, Metacomet was made chief of the Wampanoag and kept peaceful affiliation with the English colonists. He made sure to keep close ties with the English colonists through trade. After suspicions between the two increased tensity, the Wampanoag were forced to release their weapons, and they did. However the distrust grew and soon after a few casualties, Metacom was killed by his own men. From the Wampanoag's point of view, it could have been seen as distrustful to be working with the English in trade and lead them to not recognize his authority. The English could have seen it as a Metacom trying to diminish their expansion.
Contribution to colonial development:
Metacomet allowed for colonial expansion for a trade in tools and weapons. However, as the Puritans expanded it upset Metacom and he planned an attack on a small Puritan village. A messenger warned the Puritans and was later killed by Metacom's men. This lead to a retaliation from the Puritans and gradually formed into what is known as King Philip's War. By the time the war ended, the colonists found no help from England and were in great debt. This independence aided in giving the colonists their own cultural identity.
Prior to King Philip's War:
The association between colonists and Native American groups was initially set in good terms. However, as time went on the colonists began expanding their land base in native regions. By 1675, English colonists had gained a wide range of settlements -including the Pokanoket Confederacy, Nipmuck, Narragansett, Mohegan, and Pequot tribes among other coastal regions in the Connecticut River Valley and Boston- which left the native peoples progressively more depleted in resources, trade goods, and land.
King Philip's War:
The peak of conflict between Native Americans and English colonists sparked King Philip's War. Essentially, tensions exploded when three members of the Wampanoag tribe were killed for murdering John Sassamon at Plymouth. The war’s purpose from there sought for colonial independence and spanned through the years 1675 to 1676 in a large range of territory from the Mt. Hope peninsula in Rhode Island to the furthest settlement in that of Northfield, Massachusetts and included an alliance between the tribes of the Wampanoag, Narraganset, Abenaki, Nipmuck, and Mohawk. Metacomet, or King Philip as he later came to be known, presided as the war chief of the Wampanoag tribe and headed King Philip's War as a leading power in resistance to colonial power. However, having at first been successful in their fight, the depletion of resources on the part of the natives led to inner conflicts even among themselves. At this point, King Philip saw that victory was not an option and returned to Mount Hope where he was found by English colonists after being revealed by an informer. Following his death, King Philip’s body was cut apart and his head was put on display for 25 years on a flagpole at Plymouth. Also, English colonists gained definite control of the native regions involved. Though this event did put an end to the war in the part of southern New England, those fighting in the north (especially along territory in Maine) continued to fight until the Treaty of Casco was signed in April of 1678. Consequently, King Philip’s war turned to be one of the most devastating battles in American history as it cost 1 in every 65 English colonist and 3 in every 20 American Indians their lives along with over 50 percent of New England settlements to be destroyed by native resistance.
King Philip standing, and behind him are Wampanoag men training
Metacomet signing treaty
King philip being forced to sign the treaty at Taunton in 1671
Death of metacomet
Metacomet dead from being shot by John Alderman
Whether or not a person had such integrity during this time period varies with the perspectives of the British and the Colonists. The colonists definitely belived he had no integrity.
For example, the didn't respect him. Metacomet was on unsteady, yet peaceful terms with the colonists initially through the trading of Native American land for the English goods brought from Britain, like alcohol, firearms and cloth. However, the colonists would humiliate and manipulate him, like when he was forced to sign a treaty at Taunton in 1671 to relinquish Native American guns to the colonists and forced his tribe under English law.
The colonists were also betrayed by him. Metacomet had finally had enough when the English colonies kept expanding West, and the Iroquois Confederation , while fighting the Beaver Wars, were pushed Eastward into Metacomet's territory, forcing his tribe into a shrinking area of available land. He began to plan and Indian uprising, and sent his men to kill some of the colonists. This eventually led to King Philip's War, and the colonists victory was signaled with Metacomet's beheading. Unrepairable resentment grew between the settlers and the Native Americans.
In terms of if the British believed he had integrity, they seemed to be indifferent. During the King Philip's war, the British barely sent anything to help the settlers defend themselves, and yet made no mention of what Metacomet was doing.
Apart from its politically entitled definition, the word ‘Citizenship’ can also be envisioned as one’s outstanding portrayal of patriotism, loyalty and innate leadership skills.
One is given the rewarding appellation of a country’s “True Citizen” when his actions exemplify bravery and skill, and when he succeeds or dies trying to benefit the people of his nation.
Metacom was the war chief of the Wampanoag Indians and their leader in King Philip’s War, a wide Native American uprising against the English colonists in New England.
Metacom was the second son of the Wampanoag chief, Massasoit, who existed peacefully along side the settlers giving them knowledge of how to survive during tough weather
Metacomet became the Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Confederacy after his older brother, the successor as Grand Sachem, died. It was already known before he was made chief that Metacomet distrusted the colonists.
It didn't help that his brother was visiting the governor of the Plymouth Colony for peaceful negotiations when he collapsed and died just after leaving the town.
Metacomet began conspiring against the Plymouth Colony soon after the deaths of his father and brother. His his anger also came from the colonists' refusal to stop buying land and establishment of new settlements.
Metacom was also born and considered by many as a true strategic leader. Stepping into the worthy shoes of his dead father and brother, he took brave, unhesitating footsteps, albeit the consequences were not in his favor.
Metacomet used tribal alliances to coordinate Native American efforts to push European colonists out of New England. Many of the native tribes in the region wanted to push out the colonists following conflicts over land use, diminished game as a consequence of expanding European settlement, and other tensions.
Wishing to deal with matters with a peaceful approach, in the beginning he sought to live in harmony with the colonists. As a sachem, he took the lead in much of his tribes' trade with the colonies. He adopted the European name of Philip, and bought his clothes in Boston, Massachusetts.
Metacom’s dignity and steadfastness both impressed and frightened the settlers, who eventually demonized him as a menace that could not be controlled. For 13 years he kept the region’s towns and villages on edge with the fear of an Indian uprising.
But the colonies continued to expand. To the west, the Iroquois Confederation also was fighting against neighboring tribes in the Beaver Wars, pushing them west and encroaching on his territory. Finally, in 1671 the colonial leaders of the Plymouth Colony forced major concessions from him. He surrendered much of his tribe's armament and ammunition, and agreed that they were subject to English law. The encroachment continued until hostilities broke out in 1675. Metacom led the opponents of the English, with the goal of stopping Puritan expansion. He led the King Philip’s war, one of the bloodiest wars in American history from 1675-78.
Ultimately even though the results did not mirror his efforts, it can indeed be concluded that he was an Agilent, dutiful citizen and a gallant warrior who fought for the rights of the Indians, thus remembered and celebrated today.
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