It is probable that you heard the name before and never inquired further of his identity. He was not Spanish, English or German. He was a native North American, living in southern Massachusetts. His proper name was Metacom or Metacomet, and his title was Sachem[i] of the Nipmuck, Pocumtuck and Narragansett people, that coalesced against the invasive English settlers.
The name King Philip and his lineage is a bit complicated. Philip’s brother petitioned the Plymouth court for an English name for him and his brother. They were awarded the Christian names of Philip and Alexander. It appears that English settlers came close to Anglicizing the brothers.[ii] John Eliot, famous for establishing the Natick Praying Indians, took the brothers under his influence. Two years later Eliot concluded he could not convert the brothers. In the end, due to the mysterious deaths of Philip’s father followed a few months later by the death of his older brother, Philip developed a plan to push the English into the sea.
John Sassamon (aka Wassausmon), Eliot’s scribe, was embedded in Philip’s sachem, either as a Biblical educator or a spy. Sassamon was a Praying Indian from Natick, Massachusetts, sixteen miles from Boston. He was converted to Christianity. To King Philip, he was the chief counselor in matters of administration and land transactions with the English. In time, Sassamon was given a new assignment with a related sachem. He learned of the timing of Philip’s uprising and was assassinated by the Wampanoag for fear he would reveal their plan. Two months later, his body was recovered from an icy pond.
The murder of John Sassamon triggered a reprisal by the English. Three Indians were prosecuted and hanged for Sassamon’s murder. The combined events led to the King Philips War.
Initially, the war progressed badly for the English. They had superior numbers: perhaps 50,000 Englishmen against 20,000 Indians. Several towns were torched to the ground including Springfield, Massachusetts. A captive on either side was subject to the cruelest of slow deaths. Ironically, John Alderman, another Natick Praying Indian shot and killed King Philip. Philip’s head was displayed on a pike for twenty years, at his burial site in Plymouth. Other anatomical parts of King Philips too gruesome to define, suffered further exhibition.[iii]
Thirteen months after the initial battle of June 24, 1675, the war ended with 4,000 surviving Indians, including most of the Natick Praying Indians, sold into slavery. Boston survived unscathed but contributed many soldiers to the final effort. Neither side was worthy of sympathy in this war.
Final Outcome 54 major engagements over 13 months 600 English died[iv] 1200 homes burned 12 of 90 settlements destroyed 2,000 Indians killed 3,000 died in captivity of illness or starvation 4,000 sold into slavery 8,000 head of cattle killed 50 years to recover economically
[i] A Sachem is more than a chief of a tribe; typically the chief of several tribes in a region. A Sachem is chosen by his people, though English settlers equated Sachems to a native king, leading to some direct negotiations with King George II, in London.
[ii] Lepore, Jill. The name of war: King Philips War and the origins of American identity. New York: Knopf, 1999. Print. available also in Google Books, Chapter 1, p.1-7.
[iii] Lepore, Jill. The name of war: King Philips War and the origins of American identity. New York: Knopf, 1999. Print. Online Google Scholar Chapter VII, pages 1,2.
I just wanted to tell you and Mitch how very much I enjoyed today. Mitch is passion for history comes through loud and clear in his delivery.
I learned new facts about Paul Revere that I had never known before.
Mitch was so well-prepared including all of the pictures and it was obvious that heput a lot of time and effort into this tour and the presentation.
So thank you so much for the invitation He did a great job! leslie b, Natick
10/18/2017Hi Mitch, finally getting to say thank you for such an enjoyable day and tour of Paul Revere etc.. I truly learned so much and loved walking through so much of historic Boston! PHYLIS, nh
9/5/2017 Hi Beth, Thanks for asking us to go on your tour, Mitch, of Boston’s historic sites. Your enthusiasm and love of history is contagious. You made history come alive. Sorry I had to leave early. I bet the tour of the North End was equally exciting! You put your all into it. sarah r. Wellesley
6/15/2017 firstname.lastname@example.org Comment 6/1/2017, Your remarks about John Hancock really painted a historical image of the man. 6/1/2016 Hi Mitch, resume services reviews has just posted a comment on your blog post, Why Did Paul Revere Become a Coroner at the Age of Sixty-two? : This is a very interesting piece of historical information. I was never aware of this information before. I didn't even know how relevant Paul Revere is in the history of Boston. It seems that he is a very important figure on Boston's foundation. I'm definitely going to dwell further into matter and research more about him.Comment actions:
6/3/2017 GS, SNHU,edu, Mitch your remarks about John Hancock really painted an historical image of the man.
10/15/2016 Thank you so much for the Boston Massacre Tour. I never knew it was such a complicated affair. I particularly liked the incidental historical stops about Colonial Boston. I hadn't been downtown for years. You opened up so much for me. June, Natick Ma.
An association of tour guifrd for educators, amateurs historians, and the general public looking to walk beyond the Freedom Trail, concentrating on the legal, philosophical, emotional and political events of Boston.