In 1675, and Indian sachem (chief) named Metacom united many tribes of the region into a military alliance, and a bloody war broke out between Indians and settlers. Metacom had been given the English name ‘Philip’ and the war became known to the settlers and to history as ‘King Philip’s War.’ The causes of the war are disputed. The following documents show two perspectives on why the war began.
King Philip’s Complaints – John Easton
Source: John Easton, Attorney General of the Rhode Island colony, met King Philip in June of 1675 in an effort to negotiate a settlement. Easton recorded Philip’s complaints. However, Easton was unable to prevent a war, and the fighting broke out the following month.
Another Grievance was, the English made them drunk and then cheated them in Bargains; that now, they had no Hopes left to keep any Land.
Another Grievance, the English cattle and horses still increased and kept spoiling their corn. They thought when the English bought Land of them they would have kept their cattle upon their own Land, but the English didn’t use a fence.
Sourcing: Who wrote this document? When? Is it fair to say the document represents King Philip’s perspective?
Contextualization: What was happening in New England that led to the meeting between King Philip and Easton?
Close Reading: List three complaints that the Native Americans made to John Easton.
King Philip’s War – Edward Randolph
Source: The English government sent Edward Randolph to New England to report on the causes for the wars with the Native Americans. He wrote this report in 1685.
There are many different theories for what caused the present Indian war. Some blame the people of Boston for trying to Christianize the Indians before they were civilized and forcing them the strict observation of their laws, which, to a people so rude and uncivilized, has proved unbearable.
Some believe there have been Catholic priests, who have made it their business, for some years past, to turn the Indians against the English and to promise supplies from France.
Others blame the Indian leader, King Philip. Some English tried to get his land and brought him to court and sometimes imprisoned him, and always took another little piece of his land.
But the Puritan government of the Massachusetts thinks that God has allowed the Indians to rise against them. The Puritans believe it is punishment for men wearing long hair and wigs made of women’s hair; for women cutting, curling and laying out the hair. For people not going to town meetings.
The English have contributed much to their misfortunes, for they first taught the Indians the use of arms, and let them attend trainings, and showed them how to handle and fix their muskets.
Sourcing: What kind of document is this? When was it written and by whom? Does that make it more or less trustworthy?
Close Reading: What were the causes of King Philip’s War, according to Edward Randolph?
Corroboration: On what points do the two documents agree? On what points do they conflict?
Corroboration: Where the documents conflict, which one do you find more trustworthy? Why?
Corroboration: Considering both documents, what were the causes of King Phillip’s War?