King Phillip’s War: Local History in Colonial Times

When studying American history, it seems that there are very noticeable “gaps;” periods of history that we really do not know much about or seem to be “forgotten.” The one we have been focusing on most recently is the period of colonization. Most American history courses mention the Pilgrims arriving in Plymouth in 1620, but then seem to skip ahead to the French and Indian War or 1776 for the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But these “missing years” were certainly far from dull; a lot of interesting things happened, and many people are making it a purpose to learn more about this era. Living on the East Coast, we are extremely lucky because when studying this time period, we can learn about local events that helped turn our country into what it is today. One influential event that occurred during this time period around here was King Phillip’s War, which was fought from 1675 to 1676 right here in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts and the upper Connecticut River Valley of Northern Connecticut, as well as other parts of Southern New England.

Map-of-King-Philips-War

This was one of the first major clashes between the Native Americans and the European settlers in New England. The war was initiated by the Native Americans, who were angry that the Europeans were coming in and using their land and were also upset with the oppression they were living under. They attacked the Europeans after a group of Native Americans was hanged in Plymouth for murdering a Christianized Indian.

King Philips War, 1675 Painting; King Philips War, 1675 Art Print for sale

The end of the war resulted in almost the complete annihilation of a tribe. Despite being unknown by many everyday American citizens, the war is regarded by historians as the bloodiest event in New England of the 1600s, wiping out an enormous percent of the population on both sides. Historians and readers of American literature should take note of this time period because it was one of the first major conflicts between the settlers and the natives. Moreover, it was one of the first events that had a definitive effect on solidifying Europe’s presence in the colonies, while also establishing the Colonies’ emerging identity from England.

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