Metacomet

Metacomet

(1639-1676)

Metacomet was born in the territory of the Wampanoag Indians in 1639, the second son of Chief Massasoit (see no. 33). Metacomet grew up in an Indian community that struggled to maintain its ancient traditions while at the same time adjust to its new neighbors—the Pilgrims at Plymouth, the Puritans at Boston, and the new Quaker colony in Rhode Island.

Massasoit died in 1660, and his position went to Metacomet’s older brother, Wamsutta. The new chief asked for a new name for himself and his brother, as a token Df their new authority. The Pilgrims called them Alexander and Philip, respectively.

Wamsutta died of sickness while he was detained by Plymouth’s leaders in 1662. Metacomet suspected that his brother had been Doisoned, and thereafter tried to distance himself from the Pilgrims. However, the Pilgrim settlers encroached further and further on wampanoag land. Suspecting that Metacomet night try to resist, the Pilgrims summoned iim to Plymouth in 1671 and forced him to ;ign a treaty that bound him and his tribe to :he authority of the Plymouth colony.

In June 1675, Metacomet led a large band )f Wampanoag warriors in a series of raids igainst the Pilgrim town of Swansea. The English acted more quickly than he expected, md Metacomet was suddenly forced into eading his men in what became known as King Philip’s War.”

At first the Wampanoags achieved onsiderable success. Leaving their homeland i modern-day Rhode Island, Metacomet and is warriors attacked 1 9 towns throughout astern Massachusetts, destroying several of lem. From his lookout on Sugarloaf lountain on the east bank of the onnecticut River, Metacomet could see the nglish movements and he attacked their towns almost at will.

At the same time, the move westward had dire consequences for Metacomet’s cause. The English governor in New York, Sir Edmund Andros, stirred up the Iroquois against Metacomet. They crossed the Berkshire Mountains and attacked the Wampanoags, killing many of Metacomet’s men. English Captain William Turner also led a devastating attack against the Indians on the Connecticut River, killing many women and children.

As his movement began to crumble, Metacomet returned to the Rhode Island area. There he was shot and killed by an Indian serving with the English leader Benjamin Church (see no. 51). Metacomet’s head was severed from his body and displayed on a pole at Plymouth as a warning to other Native Americans.

His wife and son were taken prisoner, and it had long been believed that they were sold into slavery in the West Indies. However, recent research indicates they were hidden by a sympathetic Puritan minister and survived.