King Philip's War

War Between Metacom and the Colonists

22nd March 1621, Massasoit (c.1580 - 1661) or Ousamequin, chief of the Wampanoag of Massachusetts and Rhode Island signs the earliest recorded treaty in New England with Governor John Carver (1576 - 1...
22nd March 1621, Massasoit (c.1580 - 1661) or Ousamequin, chief of the Wampanoag of Massachusetts and Rhode Island signs the earliest recorded treaty in New England with Governor John Carver (1576 - 1... MPI /Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images

The Wampanoag nation had been friendly with the settlers and colonists in Plymouth Colony while they were led by Massasoit. In fact, he helped prevent the colonists from dying of starvation. His ties were strong enough that the Wampanoag's did not side with the Pequot Indians during the Pequot War against the colonists. However, over time the relations with the English grew more strained. 

King Philip Succeeds Massasoit and Tensions Grow

Massasoit's son Metacom, nicknamed King Philip by the colonists, eventually succeeded him after his death.

He continued to try and make agreements and keep the peace with the English Colonists. However, over time it became clear that the Wampanoag lands were being further encroached upon by the colonists. Metacom began to gather support among the other New England Native Americans to fight against the colonists and their increased encroachment on their lands. Further, colonial governments were increasingly forcing the native populations to accept European customs and laws. Eventually a Christian convert named John Sassamon told the English about King Philip's plan. He was brought to trial for trying to collude with other Native American groups. However, he was found not guilty. Nonetheless, the Wampanoag's felt that the colonists had no authority over them.

King Philip's War Begins 

The spark that started King Philip's War occurred in 1675. John Sassamon was found murdered. In retaliation, Plymouth Colony executed three Wampanoags for his murder.

King Philip led his tribe to in response to these deaths thus leading to King Philip’s War.

King Philip’s War lasted from 1675 to 1678. A number of Native American tribes sided with the English including the Pequot and Massachusetts. This long and costly war resulted in the deaths of many on both sides.

Not only were entire settlements destroyed but also half of the villages of New England were damaged.

The New England Confederation was key in the colonial victory over the Native Americans. Through the confederation, the colonists organized a military force which eventually defeated the Indians. King Philip was beheaded in 1676. However, some fighting continued to exist until 1678. Many of King Philip's supporters were shipped off as slaves. In the end, the power of the Native Americans, particularly the Wampanoag’s was permanently broken as survivors had to accept colonial authority.