Metacom (King Philip)
Metacom was born in 1640 in what is now Massachusetts . He was the son of Massassoit, who was the sachem that had a lasting treaty with the Plymouth colonies and his own tribe, the Wampanaog. When Metacom was young, Massassoit took him to Plymouth and asked that he and his brother be given an English name. The bother was named Alexander, and Metacom received the name Philip. After the death of Massassoit, Alexander became the sachem of the Wampanaog tribe. He remained so for a very brief period. He was arrested for some minor offense by the English and hauled off to Plymouth. He died on the way. The Natives felt that he had been poisoned by the Whites. Metacom then became sachem. There was an uneasy peace for about nine years at which time Metacom started to become hostile toward the colonists. The problem was that the English were continually increasing in t heir numbers which resulted in their taking more and more game away from the Wampanog and others. They also fished out the ponds and streams but the greatest issues was their insistence on buying more and more land, eventually pushing the Native Americans to live near undesirable lands such as bogs and swamp areas. However, the colonists had paid for these land purchases with guns, which was a mistake on their part. In 1671, the colonists learned that Metacom might be plotting against them. They actually levied a fine on him and made him give up some of his guns. Things between Metacom and the English rapidly declined from there. The Puritans maintained that they had a right to lawful wars against Native Americans because God commissioned this land for them and not for the heathens. In 1675 an incident occurred that sparked the war that historians called “the First Indian War.” A Christian Indian named John Sassanon warned Governor Winslow that Metacom was plotting against him. He told him Metacom said he was a “King, equal to the English King.” From then on Metacom was dubbed King Philip. Sassanon, upon his return, was found murdered by a swamp. Witnesses claimed that it was done by three Wampanaogs. Three were arrested, tried in Plymouth, and executed. This was the final straw for the Wampanoag sachem. Metacom now formed an alliance with the Narragansetts, Nipmucks, and Wabanakis. He began a series of savage attacks on colonial settlements, ultimately destroying twelve all total, and killing men, women, and children alike. Historians have said this was the most brutal and devastating Native American war in our history. Eventually, the colonies joined together and sent an army of 1000 men against a Naragansett village, killing 1600 people. They then took the captured women and children and sold them into slavery in the sugar Cain fields of the Caribbean. Among those made slaves was King Philip’s own wife and children. At this point, King Philip suffered desertions from his warriors, and for the next year he conducted warfare as a pursued man. On August 12, 1676, King Philip – Metacom – was shot dead in a swamp near New Hope. His body was drawn and quartered and his head was cut off. The head of King Philip was put on a post as you entered the colony of Plymouth where it remained for 20 years.