Metacomet, also known as Metacom and by his adopted English name King Philip, was a Wampanoag and the second son of the sachem Massasoit. He became a chief of his people 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 Metcom 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 Christan 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.
Hunted by a group of rangers led by Captain Benjamin Church, he was fatally shot by a praying Indian named John Alderman, on August 12, 1676, in the Miery Swamp near Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island. After his death, his wife and nine-year-old son were captured and sold as slaves in Bermuda. Philip's head was mounted on a pike at the entrance to Fort Plymouth, where it remained for more than two decades. His body was cut into quarters and hung in trees. Alderman was given Metacomet's right hand as a reward.
- Mary Rowlandson, who was taken captive during a raid on Lancaster, Massachusetts, later wrote a memoir about her captivity, and described meeting with Metacomet while she was held by his followers.
- Washington Irving relates a romanticized but sympathetic version of Metacomet's life in the 1820 sketch "Philip of Pokanoket," published in his collected stories, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1820).
- John Augustus Stone wrote the play, Metamora; or, The Last of the Wampanoags (1829) for the notable actor Edwin Forrest as lead.
- 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.
- 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.
Numerous places are named after Metacomet:
- Metacomet Mill in Fall River, Massachusetts, built in 1847 and named for the chief, is the oldest remaining textile mill in the city.
- King Philip Stockade, a large park named after the chief, where the Pocumtuc Indians planned and began the Sack of Springfield, is now a part of Forest Park in Springfield
- King Philip Mills in Fall River, Massachusetts, built 1871.
- The USS Metacomet, an 1863 United States Navy ship.
- The Metacomet Ridge, a 100-mile long mountain range in southern New England.
- The 51-mile Metacomet Trail in central Connecticut.
- The 110-mile Metacomet-Monadnock Trail in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.
- Metacomet Country Club, a golf course.
- King Philip Regional High School, serving Plainville, Wrentham, and Norfolk, Massachusetts.
- King Philip Regional Middle School in Norfolk, Massachusetts, which serves as the middle school for the above three towns.
- King Philip's Rock, a historical site situated on a trail in Sharon, Massachusetts.
- Metacom Avenue, a major road running through Bristol and Warren, Rhode Island.
- Metacomet Street in Walpole, Massachusetts and Belchertown, Massachusetts.
- Metacomet Road in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.
- Metacomet Lane in Franklin, Massachusetts.
- King Philip Avenue, a street in Bristol, Rhode Island.
- King Philip Mountain, a peak on Talcott Mountain, near Hartford, Connecticut
- King Phillip's Cave in Norton, Massachusetts, a cave said to have been used by the chief as a hiding place towards the end of his reign.
- King Phillip's Nose, a rock island in the Connecticut River, south of Northfield, Massachusetts.
- Phillips Pond and Phillipswood Road in Sandown, New Hampshire.
- Metacomet Park in Medfield, Massachusetts.
- King Philip, the clipper ship built in 1856, is periodically seen at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California.
- King Philip Middle School in West Hartford, Connecticut.
- Multiple Metacomet street names surrounding the Metacomet Trail in Connecticut.
- Lake Metacomet, a point of interest in Belchertown, Massachusetts
- Metacomet Street in Belchertown, Massachusetts
- Metacomet conservation land in Easton, Massachusetts
- Metacomet Pond aka Comet Pond in Hubbardston, Massachusetts
- King Philip Avenue/Road/Street or Drive in Bristol, RI; Fall River, Longmeadow, Raynham, Somerset; and Worcester, Massachusetts; and West Hartford, CT
- Bourne, p. 4
- Lepore, Jill. The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. Note: King Philip "was also known as Metacom, or Pometacom. King Philip may well have been a name that he adopted, as it was common for Natives to take other names. King Philip had on several occasions signed as such and has been referred to by other natives by that name."
- Philbrick, p. 196
- http://www.historynet.com/blood-and-betrayal-king-philips-war.htm "Blood and Betrayal: King Philip's War"], History Net
- History: MGA Links at Mamantapett, MGA Links (archived 2006)
- Bourne, Russel (1990). The Red King's Rebellion. ISBN 0-689-12000-1.
- Philbrick, Nathaniel, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. New York: Viking Penguin. ISBN 0670037605.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Metacomet.|
- The Royal Gazette article: The struggle to honour Bermuda’s Native American heritage.
- Rootsweb: New England Indians. Bermuda Reconnection Festival 2002 Photo Album.
- Rootsweb: Edward Randolph on the Causes of the King Philip's War (1685).
- Rootsweb: St. David's (Bermuda) Indian Committee.
- Pokanoket/Wampanoag Constitution. With History.
- US History.com: King Philip's War, 1675–76.
- "Philip". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1900.
- King Philip's Biography