King Philip’s War of 1675-1676 (also known as Metacom’s Rebellion) marked the last major effort by the Indians of southern New England to drive out the English settlers. Led by Metacom, the Pokunoket chief called ‘King Philip’ by the English, the bands known today as Wampanoag Indians joined with the Nipmucks, Pocumtucks, and Narragansetts in a bloody uprising. It lasted fourteen months and destroyed twelve frontier towns.
Although the sequence of events leading to the outbreak of war is unclear, the Indians’ resentment of the English had been building since the 1660s. They had become increasingly dependent on English goods, food, and weapons, and their bargaining power diminished as the fur trade dried up, tribal lands were sold, and Metacom and other leaders were forced by the colonists to recognize English sovereignty. Rather than accommodate further, some of the Indians took up arms. Others, including the Mohegan, Pequot, Massachusetts, and Nauset Indians, sided with the English.
The war ended in August 1676, shortly after Metacom was captured and beheaded. Some of his supporters escaped to Canada; those who surrendered were shipped off as slaves to the West Indies. The Puritans interpreted their victory as a sign of God’s favor, as well as a symbolic purge of their spiritual community. The Indians who remained faced servitude, disease, cultural disruption, and the expropriation of their lands.
The Reader’s Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Copyright © 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.