Origins of War King Philip’s War
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The Origins of War
King Philip’s War, 1675-76
Historians seem to agree that the coming of the first English settlers to New England and the establishment of white civilization, made King Philip’s War virtually inevitable. The origins of King Philip’s War between the Colonists and Indians were complex. The biggest issue was land, with the growing white population always needing more of it. The region’s Algonquian tribes saw their homeland begin to shrink. To the west lived the enemy, the powerful Iroquois. As the whites began to obtain land, they often managed to defraud the Indians. When transactions were honorable, problems resulted from the Indians failure to grasp the concept of individual ownership of land. An idea that was alien to them. They believed that you could use the land, but not own it. The Indians believed when they put their mark on deeds they were only granting permission for the whites to use their land. They did not believe that they were ceding their own hunting and fishing rights. There were other issues as well and other areas of conflict. The expanding English presence also meant the weakening of the Indian culture and the erosion of the Indians’ economic base. Colonial missionaries zealously sought to convert the “pagans” to Christianity, creating “Praying Indians” and “Towns”, and along with them a stressful cultural rift within Indian society.
Here were two different ways of life confronting each other in a great undeveloped country. By the 1660′s the Indians in southern New England were no longer needed for their wilderness skills. Fishing, and other commerce had largely replaced the fur and wampum trade which had been the mainstays of the colonial economy. So when in 1662, a proud, visionary, and dynamic Indian leader, Metacom also known as King Philip, was added to this powder keg war became inevitable. This bloody war became known as King Philip’s War (1675-76). It involved the Nipmuc, the Narragansett, the Wampanoag and raged up and down the Connecticut River Valley as well as in the Plymouth and the Rhode Island colonies.
Copyright 2001 West Brookfield Historical Commission Last modified: 04/14/2008