Wampanoag-Puritan History





Wampanoag-Puritan History


The war, which is sometimes called the First Indian War, was between the Native Americans, also referred to as Indians, the residents of New England in the present day, and the English, who had colonized them. The war is named after Metacomet, who was the Native American leader, and had adopted King Phillip as an English name. He was nicknamed by the Englishmen due to his disdainful mannerisms and behavior. He was the son of Wampanoag chief, and had lived in peace with the Pilgrims (Mandell 19). He revolted against the European settlers, who has slowly, but steadily encroached their land. Over the years, the Europeans had gradually prospered and increased their settlements, while at the same time, leaving the Indians in a sorry state, where they were wasted away by diseases and lost their tribal lands to the settlers.

The armed conflict lasted for about fourteen months, destroying about twelve towns, and ended just after Metacomet was beheaded. The war is considered the greatest and deadliest war in European settlement history, as it left a trail of immense damages. At least a tenth of the men who were available for war and military action were lost in the war. The Native Americans had resented the European settlers since the 1660s, and tension had been building up over the years. The animosity between the two groups intensified when some Indians killed some cattle belonging to the English, which were near their headquarters. The cattle had always been a source of conflict between the English and Indians, as they would wander off into the Indian cornfields and trample upon their crops. An English farmer had retaliated and killed one of the Indians, which set in motion a powerful and fatal uprising. The Indians attacked more than half of New England’s town, destroying property and leaving behind a trail of blood and death. During this war, approximately one out of twenty people in the region was killed, whether Indian or white. At least well over 600 colonists and over 3000 Indians were killed too. The war began after officials in Plymouth’s colony were executed together with three of Phillip’s soldiers.

Question 1

The Indians, for a long time, had been under the protection of the Plymouth Colony, with whom they had entered into an agreement with. The treaty was to be beneficial to the Indians, as they would rely on the English for the trade in order to beat the competition from the tribe’s enemies. This treaty had been signed by Massasoit, Metacomet’s father. However, as the years went by, it became apparent that they were not protected from the English settlement and expansion that led to their loss of tribal land. The English population had steadily increased over the years, thus leading to marginalization of the Indian tribe. Their population had risen to around 80,000 people, who lived in 110 towns, with 16,000 men who were of age and part of their militia.

Massasoit, who had signed the treaty, had no choice but to accept the colonial intrusion into the Wampanoag territory. The colonial population had increased by a large number, with many of them putting up settlements along the region’s coast up to the Connecticut River. The Englanders had brought with them diseases that were wasting away the Indians. For instance, they had suffered from outbreaks of diseases such as smallpox, typhoid, spotted fever, and measles. By 1676, the Indian population had significantly reduced to about only 10,000. It is believed that at the time, the Wampanoag tribe had reduced to about less than 1000. It has also become increasingly difficult to maintain peaceful and healthy relations with the English, as they had pressured the Indians to sell their tribal land.

Metacomet became the Sachem of the tribe, and had a strong disliking and distrust towards the English. John Sassamot, a praying Indian, who had converted to Puritanism, who was serving as a cultural mediator between the English and the Indians was executed by Plymouth’s officials, together with three other Wampanoag tribesmen. Although Phillip had long suspected him to be an English spy, his death sparked a series of raids and ambushes on the English towns such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine. Therefore, the King Phillip War was a steady pile up on bitterness among the Indians over issues such as land, livestock, and hunting and fishing grounds. They were also joined by the Nipmuck and Narragansett tribes. In this war, both the Indians and the English, who were Puritans felt justified for their deeds, and has no remorse for the conflict that was consuming them.

Question 2

The Wampanoag were bitter, especially because the treaty signed by Massasoit had worked against their favor and they had been subdued as a tribe. Furthermore, their tribal land was being taken away by force by the English, not forgetting that they had occupied their land and continued expanding in large numbers (Mandell 56). They had also suffered from disease outbreaks and many of them had died. The fact that they were no longer receiving the protection that they had hoped for from the Plymouth Colony made them a lot angrier. The last straw came when Sassamot and three other Wampanoag had been killed in Plymouth by the officials. Therefore, due to their suffering and marginalization, the Indians felt justified to go into war with the English.

However, on the other hand, the English, who were Puritans, felt justified to take over the tribal lands and other resources that belonged to the Indians. The puritan doctrines had strongly embraced teachings of the bible. To justify the forced taking of the land, they quoted Psalms 2:8, which the Lord tells man to ask from Him anything and He shall give him his inheritance and the best parts of the earth. Therefore, they strongly believed that the Lord had given them the Indian’s land, and that it was theirs for the taking. They had no qualms on engaging in murder in their quest for acquiring the land. The Puritans had also discussed the legal ownership of the land. Their governor, John Winthrop, a Puritan later declared that Indians had not subdued the land. Therefore, all the land that had not been cultivated was to be considered public land and domain, which was in accordance with the English common law. This therefore meant that all uncultivated land belonged to the King of England and no longer belonged to the Indians. Hence, they felt justified to take the land by force, and in the process, killing scores of Indians, leaving others destitute.

The Puritans also believed in thanksgiving. As a way of thanking God, led by the governor of Massachusetts Bay, they once attacked a group of Indians in Connecticut. These were believed to be sweet offerings to God, and thus felt justified in killing the Indians. To justify further their murders, they believed that they were the chosen people of God and hence, had a right to do anything as they wished without condemnation.

The puritans had arrived at Massachusetts and made the city a beacon for the rest of Europe. In His sermon, a model of Christian Charity by John Winthrop, he encouraged the puritans to practice communalism, charity, and hard work. He wanted them to build the city that would standout form the rest. He also preached that the puritans should not fail in their efforts to build a Godly state and that they are allowed to make mistakes (Witham 23). They were to build a city that would be under everyone’s watch. Ideally, this city would be powerful, like an empire. However, the puritans took his words a notch higher and instead of building a city upon a hill, they wanted to build New England. Great cities and empires must make money and have resources. Therefore, the Puritans were going to acquire resources forcefully that did not belong to them, as long it made them more powerful. This explains why they felt compelled to take away the tribal land by force. Force meant engaging in gruesome murders and other unnecessary force in order to subdue the Indian tribes. The sermon, as they believed and interpreted it, gave them the leeway to be violent on the Indians, kill them and take away their property, and felt strongly justified to do so.



Works Cited:

Mandell, Daniel R. King Philip’s War. New York, N.Y.: Chelsea House, 2007. Print.

Mandell, Daniel R. King Philip’s War. New York, N.Y.: Chelsea House, 2007. Print.

Witham, Larry. A City upon a Hill. New York: HarperOne, 2007. Print.





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