Metacomet

Metacomet

[met-uh-kom-it]
Metacomet (c. 1639-August 12, 1676), also known as King Philip or Metacom, was a war chief or sachem of the Wampanoag Indians and their leader in King Philip's War.

Biography

Metacom was the 2nd son of Massasoit. He became a chief in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta (or King Alexander) died.

Wamsutta's widow Weetamoo (d. 1676), sachem of the Pocassets, was his ally and friend for the rest of her life. Metacom married Weetamoo's younger sister Wootonekanuske.

At first he sought to live in harmony with the colonists. As a sachem, he took the lead in much of his tribes' trade with the colonies. He adopted the European name of Philip, and bought his clothes in Boston, Massachusetts.

But the colonies continued to expand. To the west, the Iroquois Confederation continued expanding, pushing hostile tribes east, thereby encroaching on his territory.

Finally, in 1671 the colonial leaders of the Plymouth Colony forced major concessions from him. He surrendered much of his tribe's armament and ammunition, and agreed that they were subject to English law. The encroachment continued until actual hostilities broke out in 1675.

King Philip's War

Metacomet hurried to catch up with his warriors, to lead them in the uprising that would later bear his name. Mary Rowlandson, who was taken captive during a raid on Lancaster, Massachusetts, wrote about a meeting with Metacomet during her captivity.

When the war eventually turned against him, he took refuge in the great Assowamset Swamp in southern Rhode Island. Here he held out for a time, with his family and remaining followers.

Hunted by a group of rangers led by Captain Benjamin Church, he was fatally shot by Praying Indian John Alderman, on August 12, 1676, on Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island. After his death, his wife and eight-year-old son were captured and sold as slaves in Bermuda, while his head was mounted on a pike at the entrance to Fort Plymouth where it remained for over two decades. His body was cut into quarters and hung in trees. Alderman was given one of the hands as a reward.

In fiction

In the short story The Devil and Daniel Webster Metacomet is fictionally shown to have been killed by a blow to the head (he was actually shot in the heart) and is portrayed as a villain to the United States. Metacomet appears in The Scarlet Letter.

Legacy

Footnotes

References

  • Bourne, Russel, The Red King's Rebellion, 1990, ISBN 0689120001

External links

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