Chief Massasoit, John Sassamon, King Philip's War, Massachusetts, Metacomet, Plymouth Colony, Wampanoag
King Philip is Metacomet, a Wampanoag
Massasoit = Wampanoag chief or sachem
Pokanotet = a tribe belonging to the Wampanoag confederacy
Wamsutta = Alexander (Massasoit’s 1st son)
Metacomet = Philip (Massasoit’s 2nd son)
In my last post, dated 16 September 2015, I mentioned King Philip’s War. One is tempted to think King Philip was a European monarch. He wasn’t. Philip is the name adopted by Metacomet or Metacom (c. 1638 – 1676), to which the English attached the word King. Philip was the second son of Wampanoag chief (sachem) Massasoit who had five children. His first son was Wamsutta, renamed Alexander.
Abenaki (Maine) (Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie)
Narragansett (Rhode Island)
Nauset (“Cape Cod fishhook”)
Wampanoag (Pokanoket) (Massachusetts)
Washantucket western Pequot (Connecticut)
and other tribes
- the “Mayflower:” arrival of Pilgrims at Plymouth (Plymouth Colony)
- peaceful coexistence fostered by sachem Massasoit
- suspicious death of Wamsutta = Alexander
Although, he would not allow Wampanoags to become Christians, Wampanoag chief Massasoit, or the sachem Ousa Mequin, had promoted peaceful coexistence with the Pilgrims who had settled in Plymouth Colony. The Mayflower had arrived on 11 November 1620 in what we now know as the “Cape Cod fishhook” (see Nauset on the map shown above), in the present-day New England state of Massachusetts, named after the Massachusett tribe. During the first winter, half of the Pilgrims died, about 50, but more ships arrived. The “Fortune” was the second ship to reach Plymouth Colony and on board was Philip Delano (from “de la Noye” FR), an ancestor of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
After Massasoit’s death, in c. 1661, and the death of his first son Wamsutta (ca. 1634 – 1662), renamed Alexander, Philip became chief of the Wampanoags. His brother Wamsutta had angered Plymouth Colony settlers by selling land to “outsiders.” Wamsutta had therefore been imprisoned for three days and died shortly after his release, causing suspicion among Wampanoags.
Moreover, the number of settlers was growing rapidly. Between 1620 and 1640, 20,000 Puritans arrived in New England wishing to settle. It became clear to Chief Philip, who lived at Mount Hope, that Native Americans would eventually lose territory that had always been theirs and their culture. By 1678, the English population in New England was approximately 60,000 (see Plymouth Colony, Wikipedia).
Raids by Amerindians
- murder of John Sassamon, a scholar among the Massachusett people
- execution of three Wampanoags
- King Philip’s War (1675 – 1678)
- defeat of Wampanoags
- Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie
- Benjamin Church
The conflict began when officials in Plymouth Colony (Massachusetts) hanged three Wampanoags for the 1675 murder of Christianized Massachusett John Sassamon who had attended Harvard College for a year. Because he could read and write, John Sassamon had worked for Massasoit and may have known and told that King Philip and allies, such as the Narragansett people of Rhode Island and the Abenakis of le Maine, were planning raids on settlers. The war’s theatre was Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine, where Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie was cultivating the Abenakis‘ loyalty to New France, hoping to stave off invasions from the south.
Initially, Amerindians destroyed twelve of the region’s towns. White lives were lost and the economy, ruined. (See King Philip’s War, Wikipedia.) By the end of the three-year conflict, most of King Philip’s warriors had died. Out of Philip’s 3,400 warriors, 400 had survived. Among his 3,500 opponents, 2,900 had survived. Metacomet, King Philip, had retreated to his home at Mount Hope when he realized Native Americans could not defeat the colonists, led by Benjamin Church. King Philip was killed in 1676 “while walking in the forest.” (See King Philip’s War, Wikipedia.) Many captured Native Americans, including Metacomet’s son and, according to some reports, his wife, were sold into slavery and sent to Bermuda.
The Treaty of Casco (1678)
- end of the war (1676, for King Philip)
For King Philip, the war ended in 1676. But hostilities continued until the Treaty of Casco was signed. The loss of lives had been enormous. The war King Philip and his allies had initiated was a bloodbath and the greater victims. They were losing their land and their values were threatened. Moreover, the ravages of war led to famines. Longfellow‘s Song of Hiawatha is fiction, but facts support much of what he wrote. Minnehaha dies in a famine. Northeastern Amerindians were hunters, but they also grew their food. The war caused interruptions and destruction.
Particularly destructive were the communicable diseases settlers brought to the Americas: the plague, smallpox, typhoid, measles, venereal diseases, influenza… Many Europeans had died and still died of such diseases, but exposure had created a degree of immunity. North American Indians, however, had no immunity to the diseases of Europeans. Entire populations were wiped out.
The Age of Discovery
- Atlantic Slave Trade
It could be that the major fallacy of the Age of Discovery was the notion that land discovered was land conquered; that it belonged to the nation that had discovered it. Native Americans were disowned. Moreover, etched in the mind of colonists was another misconception. They believed they had the right to own black slaves who would work on their plantations. One can’t imagine a greater danger than being the possession of another human being. A new aristocracy had arisen: the wealthy.
In short, King Philip was a Native American whose real name was Metacomet or Metacom (other spellings exist). Metacomet could tell that the land of Native Americans would be taken away from them.
Attacks on settlers were an ignominy, but so were encroachments on land that had always ensured the survival of Native Americans: their fields and hunting grounds.
My best wishes to all of you. ♥
- “The Song of Hiawatha,” completed (1 September 2015)
- “The Song of Hiawatha” as Amerindian Lore (29 August 2015)
- “The Song of Hiawatha,” a Prologue (27 August 2015)
- From Manifest Destiny to Exceptionalism (10 November 2013)
- Manifest Destiny & the News (18 November 2012)
- From Coast to Coast: the Oregon Treaty (18 May 2012)
Sources and Resources
http://www.history.com/topics/manifest-destiny (from the History Channel)
Video: The Last of the Sioux (please click on Manifest Destiny).
© Micheline Walker
20 September 2015
by Sebastiano del Piombo
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)