King Philip’s War: A Clash of Cultures between Native Americans and Europeans YOUR NAME HERE CLASS NAME HERE DATE HERE Upon the discovery by European explorers that the lands of the New World were inhabited by Native Americans, a clash of cultures, or two cultures that did not accept the same style of living, was somewhat inevitable…
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King Philip’s War, also known as “Metacom’s Rebellion,” a war between the colonists of New England and the various tribes of the surrounding areas, was but one example of the clash of cultures between Native Americans and Europeans; however, it is significant in history as a clash of cultures for a number of reasons, including its number of casualties, the fact that there were no clear divisions along cultural lines, and that it marked the end of hope that the Native American could be integrated into European society in the New World. In 1675, the Wampanoag chief Metacom resolved to drive the settlers out of what he saw as his land. His father, Massasoit, had ruled with gentle wisdom during his time as sachem (chief) of the Wampanoag, going so far as to befriend the settlers and set up trade with them, but Metacom saw things differently.3 It was up to him, he felt, to drive the settlers off his lands, or else he would one day be left with nothing.4 He told European authorities very simply, “I am determined not to live until I have no country.”5 The preceding years of peace and harmony, of trade and prosperity between settlers and Native Americans were quickly coming to an end. Ironically, this great conflict was almost avoided. A man by the name of John Sassamon, who had grown up as a Wampanoag but attended Harvard College where he had been given his English name, warned the governor of Plymouth Colony that Metacom had sent word to various tribes to gather and attack.6 Sassamon pleaded with the governor to be allowed to stay at Plymouth Colony, fearing revenge for his warning; the governor heartily dismissed him and sent him back to his tribe.7 This action would prove to be dire in starting the conflict between the two cultures. It did not take long for hostilities to come to a climax. Sassamon was discovered a week later, his body found in a frozen pond with the neck broken.8 The governor was alarmed, and recalling the warnings he had been given, decided to assert his authority over the Native Americans.9 When he received reports that it was two Wampanoag warriors that had been seen murdering Sassamon, he entered the village of Metacom, dragged the warriors back to Plymouth Colony, and had them tried and executed in short order.10 To Metacom, this was seen as a gross injustice of his power, and only served to reinforce his belief that the settlers intended one day to take over both his tribe and all lands.11 Revenge was the only option left, and therefore, it was the option that was taken. The attacks began immediately. First to fall was the southwestern Plymouth settlement of Swansea, which was quickly burned and the settlers driven off. 12 Over the next months, Metacom took his war to various tribes and settlements all around New England.13 Skirmishes and battles erupted within Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, with tribes rallying around both sides.14 More than twenty towns and settlements were attacked in Massachusetts alone.15 It would not be an exaggeration to say that everyone had chosen sides, both settler and Native
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