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Home > History > King Phillip's War

King Phillip's War

This article discusses the increasing hostility between Puritan settlers in Massachusetts and local Native groups that culminated in the deadly war.

Metacom

As the Puritans continued to colonize New England, localized Indian uprisings were fairly common as they became displaced. In 1637, the Pequots of New England were massacred by Massachusetts and Connecticut militia, and most uprisings ceased.

Wearing Out Their Welcome

Initially welcoming and peaceful toward the Puritans, the Massachusetts Native Americans were soon displaced from their land and were forced to accept missionaries interfering in their affairs. The Wampanoag chief, Massasoit, who helped the Plymouth colonists survive, died in 1661, leaving his son, Metacom, in charge. Metacom was much less enthusiastic about the presence of the Puritan settlers than his father, and distrusted them greatly.  In 1675, Metacom, known in England King Phillip, launched a massive attack against the Puritans in an attempt to save his people's way of life. He organized a great army which included disgruntled members of other New England tribes. His armies obliterated White settlements near Plymouth and in western Massachusetts. In Rhode Island, the town of Providence was destroyed.

Terrible Violence an the Death of Metacom

The White settlers responded with brutal force and more or less exterminated all of the original New England tribes. King Phillip's War unfolded in an all too familiar sequence of events - by White settlers provoking the Natives to war by invading and stealing their land, and then annihilating them when the Indians responded with violence. The war was thought to be the deadliest 17th century war between Native Americans and colonists. The war ended when Metacom was tracked down and killed by Massachusetts militia. In all, it is thought that over 5,000 Native Americans died in battle, or of disease during the war. At least 1,000 were sold into slavery.

Charter Revoked

In response to the Indian annihilation in Massachusetts, as well as various acts of insubordination, such as intolerance toward other sects, coining money without the crown's permission, and the failure to enforce the 1660 Navigation Act (certain goods such as Tobacco and Sugar could only be exported to European countries by way of England), King Charles II revoked the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

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