The settlers of the Plymouth Colony initially enjoyed a peaceful relationship with the Wampanoag and Massasoit Indians. A period of mild unrest in 1662 marked the first disruption in that relationship. Plymouth’s policies required payment to the native peoples for every purchase of their lands; the growth of the colony in the second half of the seventeenth century led to greater purchases of Native American lands in the 1660s. Settlers’ livestock often harmed the native peoples’ crops, as the white settlements grew closer to native villages. This increased proximity also resulted in efforts to proselytize the western Native American population.
In 1671, King Philip (Metacom), the Wampanoag chief, was forced into signing a peace treaty. The establishment of a white community near the Wampanoag village at Mount Hope had resulted in escalated conflict between settlers and the native peoples. In the treaty that King Philip signed, he acknowledged himself as subject to the king of England and the law of Plymouth. Despite the treaty, unrest continued to grow and ultimately led to the outbreak of war.
In 1675, Wampanoag and Narragansett Indians began conducting raids on communities throughout Plymouth in response to the decade of unrest that had preceded the war. The colony’s militia attempted to trail the natives and attack them in order to protect the colony. The militia, however, lacked experienced military leadership and spent most of a year blundering throughout the countryside in a disorganized attempt to locate Philip’s warriors. The war spread throughout the New England colonies and was not settled until the militia destroyed King Philip’s camp and killed him in the summer of 1676.
King Philip’s War Photo Gallery