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"Philip. King of Mount Hope", a 1772 engraving of a caricature of King Philip by Paul Revere.
Metacom (1638-1676), also known as Metacomet and by his adopted English name King Philip, was chief to the Wampanoag people and the second son of the sachemMassasoit. He became a chief in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta (or King Alexander) died shortly after their father Massasoit. Wamsutta's widow Weetamoo (d. 1676), sunksqua of the Pocasset, was Metacomet's ally and friend for the rest of her life. Metacomet married Weetamoo's younger sister Wootonekanuske. No one knows how many children they had or what happened to them all. Wootonekanuske and one of their sons were sold to slavery in the West Indies following the defeat of the Native Americans in what became known as King Philip's War.
At the beginning Metacom 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 also was fighting against neighboring tribes in the Beaver Wars, pushing them from the west and encroaching on his territory. Finally, in 1671, the colonial leaders of the Plymouth Colony forced major concessions from him. Metacomet surrendered much of his tribe's armament and ammunition, and agreed that they were subject to English law. The encroachment continued until hostilities broke out in 1675. Metacomet led the opponents of the English, with the goal of stopping Puritan expansion.
In the spring of 1660 Metacomet's brother Wamsutta appeared before the court of Plymouth to request that he and his brother be given English names. The court agreed and Wamsutta had his name changed to Alexander, and Metacomet's was changed to Philip. Author Nathaniel Philbrick has suggested that the Wampanoag may have taken action at the urging of Wamsutta's interpreter, the Christian convert John Sassamon. Metacomet was later called "King Philip" by the English.
King Philip's War
Metacomet used tribal alliances to coordinate efforts to push European colonists out of New England. Many of the native tribes in the region wanted to push out the colonists following conflicts over land use, diminished game as a consequence of expanding European settlement, and other tensions.
As the colonists brought their growing numbers to bear, King Philip and some of his followers took refuge in the great Assowamset Swamp in southern Massachusetts. He held out for a time, with his family and remaining followers.
In his short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster" (1937), Stephen Vincent Benet portrays Metacom as a villain to the colonists, and as being killed by a blow to the head (he was shot in the heart). Webster is portrayed as respecting Metacomet as one of those who "formed American history." Metacomet, together with other famous historical villains, takes Webster's side against the Devil. In the film he is replaced by Asa, the Black Monk.
Metacomet is featured in the 1995 film The Scarlet Letter as the Wampanoag's new chief after his father's death.
David Kerr Chivers' Metacomet's War (2008) is an historical novel about King Philip's War.
Narragansett journalist John Christian Hopkins's novel, Carlomagno, is a historical novel that imagines Metacomet's son becoming a pirate after having been sold into slavery in the West Indies.
The novel "My Father's Kingdom" (2017, by James W. George) focuses on the events leading to King Philip's War.
The site of King Philip's death in Miery Swamp on Mount Hope