KING PHILIP’S WAR
The English colonies started with the landing of the pilgrims on the shore of what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1620. As we all know from the stories we grew up with, members of the Wampanoag Indian tribe, led by their Sachem, Massasoit, greeted and befriended them. That first winter was exceptionally cold and without the help in the form of food and advice provided by Massasoit and his people, there is little doubt that they all would have perished.
The Wampanoags were one of eight sub-tribes of the Algonquian peoples, all related, primarily through linguistic traditions. Massasoit was the senior Sachem of that group, gaining that distinction through his wisdom and leadership. In 1622, he signed a treaty with the English which said that they, the Indians, would not “give, sell or convey any of their lands, territories or positions to anyone without the permission of the English.” This act of seeming generosity was prompted by what had been happening between his Wampanoags and their neighboring tribal nation, the Narragansetts. That nation was fortunate during the period 1600 to 1620 to have escaped the ravages of disease introduced by earlier contact with Europeans. The probable reason was that large numbers of them inhabited the islands of Narragansett Bay, thus avoiding contact with other stricken tribes. Further, their numbers were enhanced by the assimilation of the remnants of other tribes that had been decimated by disease. The resulting superior numbers caused them to be the dominant nation in southeastern New England and they forced the Wampanoags to pay them tribute. When the English landed in Plymouth and were befriended by Massasoit, they viewed it as a threat to their supremacy. Massasoit’s Treaty was an attempt to strengthen his people’s position vis a vis the Narragansetts. Going back a bit, the early history of the New England region was all about the Indian tribes and their interaction with the Europeans. European ships, primarily the Dutch, had been sailing the New England and New York waters since the 1500s for the purpose of fishing, trading and exploring. Throughout the 16 th century their numbers increased and by the early 1600s, hundreds of ships were pursuing trade with the natives along the coast. In New England the primary commodity was beaver hides, destined for the salons of Europe. The demand was great and the Dutch were the primary conduit for them. The volume increased with time, and it began to deplete the supply of beaver, particularly in the Narragansett Bay area, forcing the Indians to push further inland to satisfy demand. The Dutch found that the fierce Pequot Indian Tribe of the southeastern Connecticut area were very willing and able to trap, gather, and even trade with other Indian tribes for this commodity on their behalf. In return, they got trade goods of all sorts, including guns and gunpowder. The English colonies posed a potential threat to their hold on the fur trade, so the Dutch negotiated an exclusive trade agreement with the Pequots saying that the Pequots could supply furs only to them.
By 1632, the volume of trade had grown to the point that the Dutch established and built a trading post on the Connecticut River close to where Hartford is today, on property bought from the Pequots, putting a man by the name of Jacob Elkins in charge. Their idea was to be as close to the source as they could manage. At approximately the same time the English, also interested in the fur trade, opened a trading location on the Connecticut River, not far up stream. Trouble broke out in 1634 when the Pequots attacked and murdered a band of Narragansetts who were on their way to the Dutch trading post with furs because they considered the Connecticut River valley to be their tribal area and that the Narragansetts were encroaching. Of course the Dutch were furious and in retaliation cut off trade with the Pequots and kidnapped their sachem, Tatoben, held him for ransom and an agreement by the Pequots to back off. To pay the ransom, the Pequots came up with 140 fathoms of wampum as payment, but Elkins, being angry that the ransom wasn’t satisfied by beaver pelts, killed Tatoben. The Pequots only got a body for their ransom payment!
A not unexpected result of the altercation was a Pequot attack on the trading post, burning it to the ground. A very important result of this episode was that the Dutch came to realize the value of the wampum to the Indians, and started trading it for the furs rather than just trade goods. (Wampum was the Indian form of money, consisting of polished beads or shells of different colors. White was considered the most valuable. A fathom was a measure, consisting of a length of belt or sash, or a string of beads. The length of the fathom depended on the value of the wampum.) This shift from trade goods to wampum as the trading medium caused it to become devalued because the Narragansetts, Pequots and Dutch all went into its manufacture. The English and the Dutch were competing for a declining market as the fashions in Europe were beginning to change and furs were no longer in such great demand. Sassacus, Tatoben’s successor, vowed revenge for the murder of Tatoben and tended to trade with the English. The general situation was not good. By 1636 the Pequots were at odds with the Dutch, the Narragansetts and the English. Things began to come to a head when John Oldham, a respected trader and friend of the Narragansetts was killed by the Pequots off Block Island. An attempt to retaliate by John Endicott enraged the Pequots and they, in turn, in 1637, raided the settlement of Wethersfield, killing 30 settlers and taking two girls captive. They tortured many of their victims enhancing their reputation for cruel savagery.
Sassacus then tried to persuade the Narragansetts to join him in an effort to get rid of the English by using what we call guerilla warfare, but the Narragansetts decided that they hated the Pequots more than they hated the English and joined the English in an effort to get rid of the Pequots. This precipitated additional attacks by Sassacus and his savages. Finally, in May of 1637, a committee of men from Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield met to decide what to do about the savagery of Sassacus and his men. They determined to wage an offensive war, so an army of 90 men was authorized under the command of John Mason. He quickly got help from an exiled Pequot, Uncas, who was with the Narragansetts, and who hated Sassacus because Sassacus had ejected him from the tribe. He joined Mason with 70 Narragansetts. The word got out and Massachusetts Bay added 300 more men. The army proceeded to the shores of Narragansett Bay where they met with Narragansett chief Canonicus, who, upon learning of their plans, reminded Mason that the Pequots were fierce and dangerous and that they should take great care! The army then proceeded to present day Groton where one of the two main encampments of Pequots was located. Sassacus was in the other, which was near New London. Their attack occurred at dawn and the Pequots, completely surprised, were overwhelmed. According to Mason, the better part of 400 Pequots were killed in the village which was burned. 300 Pequot warriors from the other encampment were encountered that day and were put into retreat, their arrows being no match for the English muskets. The chase continued, Mason’s forces too much for the fleeing Pequots, few prisoners being taken, until finally, in the end, all but a few stragglers were left. Sassacus and a small band of his warriors sought refuge and support of the Mohawks in the Hudson River valley, but they turned on him and killed all but one of the group, and sent Sassacus’s scalp to the English in Saybrook as proof that the Pequots were finally done in. Mason said that about 700 were killed or captured. In the end, the treaty of Hartford was signed, ending the existence of the Pequot nation. The remaining Pequots were absorbed into the Narragansett and Mohegans, their lands turned over to the Colony of Connecticut. So ended the Pequot War. Peace, for the most part remained until the uprisings in 1675.
Going back to when Massasoit and his Wampanoags welcomed the Pilgrims in Plymouth, at that time New England was peopled by many Indian Nations - the Wampanoag in southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and the Elizabeth Islands, and the Narragansetts, of course, on the western side of Narragansett Bay, who took advantage of their location to manufacture great quantities of wampum and to build large fortifications. These two tribes were constantly sniping at one another as time went on, although they became allies later. The Niantic and Pequots were along the Connecticut coast with the Pequot on up into the Connecticut River valley. The Nimuc were in central Massachusetts, the Pocumtuck in western Massachusetts. The western most peoples were the Mahicans east of the Hudson River. Upper New York State held the Mohawks, much feared by the New England people because of their war-like nature. In Boston were the Massachusetts. Northern New England held the Pennacook, Abenaki, Penobscot and Kennebeck. Most of these names exist today as place names and are familiar to us all.
The arrival of the English settlers at first was not considered a big deal, although the Narragansetts were wary of them because of Massasoit’s treaty. However, as mentioned previously, disease, brought by the Europeans impacted the native populations to an extent hard to comprehend. One estimate has it that the population of native New England people was about 90,000 in 1600, and depleted to about 20,000 by 1675, the time of King Philip’s War. This population drop influenced everything that happened, both between the tribes themselves and relations between the natives and the Europeans. Throughout the region, settlements started in what the native population felt were their ancestral lands, not understanding the impact of ownership, as defined by English law, which, of course, was part and parcel of the treaty agreed to between the Pilgrims and Massasoit. In spite of these sorts of problems, relationships remained reasonably good, due in large part to the good will and statesmanship of Massasoit. With the loss of population, large tracts of native lands were left empty of native presence, allowing the English largely uncontested expansion westward toward the Connecticut River. Unrest on the part of the natives, and a feeling on the part of the English that they were entitled to take over any land they wanted was, more and more, causing the peaceful relationships built by Massasoit to break down. By 1675, the westernmost settlement was Deerfield, a small town founded on the Deerfield River, which empties into the Connecticut in a northerly direction, creating an interesting backwater situation resulting in meadows and lowlands with very deep, rich soil. The Pocumtuck Indians controlled the region, but disease wiped out most of them and the English took over, forming a farming community in 1671.
In 1661, Massasoit died and his son Wamsutta became the Grand Satchem of the Wampanoags. He requested that he be given an English name, so the English named him Alexander and his brother Metacom, Philip. Alexander felt that having English names would make it easier to function in both English and native societies. He was, however more independent than his father, and was rumored to be discussing war plans with the Narragansetts. This, of course, was of great concern to the English, because the possibility of a coordinated uprising had been in the background of their thinking since their arrival 40 years earlier. Alexander also negotiated and sold land to the outcast colonies in Rhode Island founded by Roger Williams. This really got the General Court in Plymouth upset, so they sent Major Josiah Winslow, eldest son of Governor Edward Winslow, to meet with Alexander to force the issue.
In July 1662, Winslow took a small party of men to Alexander’s lodge near Halifax, Massachusetts. Part of the message they took was “if he stir’d or refused to go, he was a dead man”. This was in keeping with the Puritan tradition at that time of using threats towards the Natives. What happened next is historically unclear. Winslow forcibly marched Alexander and his small band to Duxbury, then Marshfield, where, after being interrogated by Plymouth officials, he became ill. In spite of the illness, he went to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and then returned to Winslow’s in Marshfield. His illness became worse and he left to return to his lodge at Mount Hope near Halifax. He died enroute, and was carried the rest of the way by his companions. Phillip thought he had been poisoned. However, there is no way to determine what killed him. The theories range from “such was the pride and height of his spirit, that the very surprizal of him, so raised his choler and indignation, that it put him into a fever, which notwithstanding all possible means that could be used, seemed mortal.” as put forward by William Hubbard in his History of the Indian Wars” in 1677, to a modern theory that he had appendicitis. The poisoning theory, however, had lasting weight, and twelve years later, John Cotton, the minister at Plymouth, wrote to Increase Mather that Major William Bradford (son of the governor) claimed to have been present when Winslow captured Alexander, and that Alexander had survived the questioning by the Plymouth authorities without ill effect and became sick only after returning from Massachusetts Bay. This was probably an attempt to counter the poisoning stories, which were becoming politically difficult.
At any rate, Metacom, now called Philip, became sachem of the Pokanoket and Wampanoags. During the following years, Philip came under more and more pressure as leader, trying to deal with the English who were encroaching on their lands and strained relations with his neighboring Narragansetts over trade issues. In 1667, a war scare erupted and Philip was accused of planning an assault on the English settlements with the Dutch and French. Philip was able to convince the English that he had nothing to do with it and it blew over, although escalating the growing tensions between the natives and the English. In 1671, a man named Hugh Cole of Swansea informed the authorities in Plymouth that both the Wampanoags and Narragansetts were preparing for a war. Philip agreed to meet the English in Taunton and, under enormous pressure, signed the Taunton Agreement in which he confessed to planning attacks and agreed to forfeit seventy weapons brought with him to the meeting and to surrender the rest of his weapons to follow. He probably acceded to the demands because of the pressure, but it resulted in great unrest and some distrust among his followers. He never did surrender the other arms and was fined by the Plymouth authorities.
Over the next four years a “cold war” mentality developed, both sides becoming more and more fearful, and both sides increasing their arms. The climax came in June 1675 when three Wampanoag were arrested for killing John Sassamon, an Indian who had converted to the Christian religion, had fought alongside the English, attended Harvard, and taught at John Eliot’s Indian Village in Nemansket. The latter was a Christian proselytizing settlement which was not at all helpful to English / Indian relationships. He had been a counselor to Alexander and had been with Philip when the Taunton Agreement was signed. He was equally comfortable with either side. Philip dismissed him from his service over either mistrust on Philip’s part over his closeness to the English or over a land deal he made with Philip. At any rate he came to reside on 27 acres in Assawompsett, near present day Lakeville, Massachusetts. From there he visited Governor Josiah Winslow in Marshfield and warned him that Philip and his Wampanoags were planning a war against the English. He went home and a few days later he was found dead under the ice at Assawompsett Pond.
Everybody assumed that the death was accidental, until six months later, a Christian native named Patuckson came forward and claimed that he had seen three Wampanoags kill John Sassamon, Tobias (one of Philip’s councilors), Tobias’s son, Wampapaquan, and Mattachunnamo. The authorities accepted this story in spite of the fact that Patuckson owed Tobias a gambling debt. Plymouth Colony records accused them of “laying violent hands on [John Sassamon]…and striking him, or twisting his necke, until he was dead…[and] did cast his dead body through a hole in the iyce.” Next came the trial, held in the town of Plymouth, and presided over by the puritan minister, Increase Mather who had no sympathy for anything Indian. The jury consisting of twelve white men and an auxiliary of six Indians found them guilty in short order, and they were sentenced to hang. The jury foreman, in his verdict, stated that the verdict was unanimous among the English and Indians of the jury, although Francis Jennings wrote that he felt the whole thing was a political effort to drive a wedge between the pagan Indians and the Christian Indians. The hanging was carried out, Tobias and Mattachunnamo died instantly, but Wampapaquan broke the rope and landed on his feet, much to his and everybody else’s amazement. They gave him another chance to live if he confessed. He then accused the other two of the killing, but that he had only watched. This bought him a month, at the end of which he was shot.
Philip and his people, and many English, felt that the trial was a gross miscarriage of justice. Over the next few months, conditions between natives and English got worse and worse. In June 1675, John Easton, a Quaker from Rhode Island, made an effort to mediate Philip’s position. During those talks Philip was inclined to go along with efforts for moderation, and came up with a list of grievances, but they were never submitted to the authorities in Plymouth. Easton’s writings list the grievances declared by Philip, “ When they (the English) arrived they were weak and Massasoit protected them, taught them how to plant, let them have land, but when his son became sachem, forced Alexander into court, and poisoned him. The Indians never got a fair shake in the courts, Indians never prevailed against the English and the English always prevailed against the Indians. The English never dealt fairly in land transactions, made the Indians drunk and cheated them. Also the English horses and cattle trampled the Indian corn and never used fences”. Philip’s last words to Easton were “the English should do to them as they did when they were too strong for the English”. A week later the war started.
It would appear that Philip had been lining up the other tribes of the Algonquian peoples to back him in the event that events were to lead to active conflict ever since the Taunton Agreement, which he agreed to only to get the Puritan English off of his back. The first skirmish occurred when several Pokanoket, probably without Philip’s knowledge, looted several homes in Swansea, chasing the homeowners off and burning two of the houses. This alarmed the Boston and Plymouth authorities and they sent several groups of men to talk with the sachems of the various tribes to get them to influence their people not to go to war against the English. One of these groups, led by Captain Thomas Savage was supposed to meet with Philip, but was never able to catch up with him because in Swansea, according to John Easton, a Quaker who related in his “Relation” that several Indians were caught pilfering a house and one was shot and killed. In retaliation, the next day the Pokanoket killed nine Swansea colonists, two of whom were found by Savage and his party. This ended all hope for a negotiated peace. Several others were killed in the following two days and it was clear that the war was on, so Savage and his group left to report to Governor John Leverett in Boston. Thus the Massachusetts Bay Colony decided to support their neighbors to the south in Plymouth in defending themselves from the Indians.
Indian attacks on English settlements in July, starting in the Plymouth colony, spread to Rhode Island and the Massachusetts Bay. The Massachusetts Bay troops joined the Plymouth Colony troops and went into the Pocasset swamp expecting to trap the Wampanoags, but found only abandoned camps. However, they did encounter some rear guard Wampanoag who killed eight or ten men, discouraging the English from chasing them further. They thought that by using different tactics, they could trap the Indians in the swamp. This required a smaller, faster force and repositioning of the bulk of their men. They hoped to trap the Indians in the swamp and to destroy the Indian’s food supply. If this had worked the uprising would, perhaps, have ended right there. King Philip was too savvy a leader to allow that to happen, so he and his warriors escaped from the swamp leaving about 100 of their women and children behind who soon surrendered and were sold into slavery. Philip led his men, numbering 63, into another swamp in Old Rehoboth. There he encountered a force of 263 men, mostly Mohegans from Connecticut who came to aid the English, and in the encounter lost 23 of his men and was ready to surrender, but the English and Mohegans blew it and he and his men escaped to the interior of Massachusetts, where he was able to spread the word and enlist the aid of the various tribes in the escalating rebellion.
Through the summer attacks on English outposts spread to the Connecticut River valley and even into Maine, where the colonists hadn’t pushed so hard on land issues with the Abenaqi, but treated them with such disdain and cruelty that they joined in the rebellion. The warfare throughout consisted of skirmishes from ambush and raids on the houses and barns of the settlers. There was an attitude of take no prisoners, so for the most part the Indians took few prisoners, and burned the buildings. By November, with winter coming, the Abenaki retreated to their winter quarters in Ossipee, New Hampshire after having killed 80 English and destroyed numerous settlements. In January the English attempted to attack their quarters, but found it impossible to carry through because of the severe winter conditions. Shortly after, the Indians asked for an armistice because of their own inability to survive the winter due to the harsh weather, disease and lack of food.
Meanwhile, the powerful Narragansetts were inactive in the conflict, although the English were getting reports that they were preparing to go to war. Taking the view that better safe than sorry, the now United Colonies decided to send a thousand men into Narragansett country to enforce treaty obligations. So on December 19 they attacked a large fortified Narragansett village in the Great Swamp (now South Kingstown, R.I.) and the bloodiest battle of the war took place. About 600 Narragansetts died allowing the Puritans to claim a great victory, however they sustained enough damage themselves that continuing a winter campaign was impossible. There were the 220 dead and wounded and the difficulty of sustaining the rest during the extremely cold December winter weather proved impossible. Both sides backed off until January, which was somewhat warmer. The Narragansetts resumed attacks on the village of Pawtuxet, (today’s Warwick and Cranston, Rhode Island), and then went off to join their Nipmuck and Wampanoag allies. The English chased after them with an army of 1400 men, had a few skirmishes, but were so poorly provisioned and plagued by desertions that they were forced to disband. The result of all this was to cause the Narragansetts to join with allied tribes in their common cause. Philip had played no role in this as he was in present day Schaghticoke, New York, on the Hoosic River trying to scare up supplies and enlist the help of the Mahecians. However they turned on him, nearly wiping out his band. He escaped and returned to New England in the early spring, his influence greatly diminished.
In late January, a couple of “praying Indians”, those who had been converted to Christianity, returned from a spying mission to report that a series of attacks were planed on frontier towns in western Massachusetts, Lancaster, Groton, Marlboro, Sudbury and Medfield. The warnings went unheeded, and 400 warriors descended onto Lancaster in early February, when the town was devastated and the survivors deserted what was left. Medfield and Weymouth met the same fate demonstrating that none of the towns were safe. Early March saw Groton attacked three times, causing its abandonment; Northampton, Warwick, Rhode Island, Andover, Haverhill and Marlboro were attacked causing the latter to be abandoned. A group of 20 friendly Indians and 62 Plymouth Colony troops were ambushed near Rehoboth; a few Indians escaped and 42 troops were killed. A few days later, Canonchet the Narragansett leader and his band, looking to collect seed corn for spring planting, attacked Old Rehoboth, destroying 45 homes, 21 barns, 2 corn mills, and a sawmill. They then, the next day, burned 100 buildings at Providence including Roger Williams’s home in spite of his long standing friendly relationship with the Narragansett Indians, underlining the Narragansett’s desire for revenge for the Great Swamp tragedy.
As spring approached, the colonies were a disaster! The English settlers had been driven out of Springfield, Deerfield, Northfield, Brookfield, Lancaster, Groton, Mendon, Wrentham, Swansea, Rehoboth, Dartmouth, and Marlboro was only a military base. The populace was up in arms, anxious for their safety and equally anxious about their potential danger while planting the all important spring crops. The Indian attacks continued but the English were unable to mount any effective counter attacks, resulting in a serious morale problem. In mid April about 500 Indians attacked Sudbury, successfully routing the English troops. These successes by the Indians hid the fact that they were becoming more and more concerned that they weren’t getting their spring planting done. Being constantly on the move made that very difficult. The morale problem of the English, plus the same anxiety about spring planting resulted in a slowdown in the English pursuit of the Indians. In central Massachusetts the Algonquians sensed that the English troops had gone east, set up fishing camps north of Deerfield, and started a series of raids to steal as much foodstuffs as possible. They relaxed their defenses and an English captive escaped and brought the intelligence that their guard was down, so a force consisting mostly of young and older men with little experience was gathered and they set off to try to take advantage of the situation. They had momentary success against the women and children, but when the warriors came back, they were routed. This created renewed energy in the English towns and they reinforced the Connecticut towns with troop reinforcements. By June 1, Massachusetts Bay sent 500 troops to join a new force of 440 English and friendly natives and eighty odd from Connecticut. They successfully defended Hadley on the Connecticut River from an attack, but were unable to pin down the Indians anywhere else. This large force, as a result, was disbanded by the end of June and the men returned to their homes. It turned out that the repulsed attack on Hadley was the last coordinated Indian attack of the War.
The settlers settled into a strategy of logistical harassment, trying to deprive the natives of their food supplies and chasing them from their fishing locations. Indian leaders were beginning to be apprehended or killed in skirmishes. King Philip’s influence was evaporating, the Indians were abandoning their fields and fishing locations and becoming more and more desperate. Philip left for his homeland in Mount Hope, and the western Massachusetts area became quiet, the native military alliance was dissipating.
In southeastern Massachusetts the English were more and more successful in pursuing the natives. Recognizing that the tide of battle was going against them, the Indian leaders, either killed or losing confidence, began to give up. Eighty or ninety Sakonnets surrendered, Massachusetts Bay declared an amnesty and a group of Narragansetts surrendered only to be massacred by the English. Other tribes sued for peace as well. The lack of food and renewed aggressive attacks by the English were having an effect. Meanwhile, Philip was still out there. By mid July, Benjamin Church formed a force including friendly Indians and began to have success in chasing down Philip’s band. They captured several Wampanoags in early August, including Philip’s wife, whom they sold into slavery, but not Philip himself. On August 11, Alderman, an Indian whose brother had been killed by Philip for suggesting surrender, led Church and his men to Philip’s encampment in the swamp near Mount Hope. In the battle that resulted, Philip was shot dead by Alderman. His body was quartered and beheaded. His head was then taken to Plymouth, marched through the streets and put onto display. Alderman was awarded one of his hands as a souvenir. It was said that he kept it in a bucket of rum and he would show it for a fee.
To complete the total victory, Church then tracked down Philip’s elder leader and advisor, Anawan, who had been advisor to Alexander and Massasoit as well, finding him on August 28 th. He was captured and taken to Plymouth and, against Church’s wishes, was hanged. This brought to an end an era that started when the Pilgrims landed and developed peaceful and cooperative relations with the native population. The Indian influence had been broken and the Puritans were able to treat the land in New England pretty much as they wanted. They treated the remaining Indians brutally, selling them into slavery or put to death. Their lands were taken over by the Crown and sold off.
In 1676 anyone holding Indians captives in Plymouth Colony was required to dispose of them out of the colony or forfeit them to the authorities. Later the Massachusetts Bay authorities declared that all natives involved in English deaths were to be put to death and the remainder to be sold into slavery. The few that were left were put into servitude or forced into one of the “praying towns”. This was a deliberate program of enslavement of the remaining population of native people in the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies, perhaps the only way the settlers were able to feel secure in their villages and towns.
King Philip’s War took a dreadful toll. In terms of casualties, it was the most costly of all American wars. The English lost 800 of a population of 2,000,while the Indians lost 3000 of a population of 20,000. When we translate that to deaths per 100,000 to be able to compare to more recent conflicts, we find that the English lost 1,538 and the Indians, 15,000 per 100,000, in the American Revolution 180, the Civil War, 857 and World War II, 206. Or put another way, based on equivalent casualties in World War II, we would have lost 4,422,226 to the war! The property loss was huge, and I haven’t seen any reference to a value in today’s terms. Property destruction was a part of the method of warfare during that period.
I would like to go back to the Pequot War I talked about earlier. The Treaty of Hartford officially did away with the Pequot Nation and made it unlawful to even use the name Pequot. In spite of the intent of the authorities, pockets of Pequots survived. In fact, the Narragansetts protected a group of them shortly after the end of the Pequot war. The authorities correctly sensed that eliminating those Pequots could result in another war, but with the Narragansetts. This group survived, but they gave up their warlike ways and lived peacefully on the shore of Narragansett Bay. At the end of King Philip’s War they aided Captain Church in his final battle, which resulted in Philip’s death. They were eventually crowded into a reservation near North Groton where they remained. By 1731 their numbers had shrunk to 131 in the reservation, now called Mashantucket. A hundred years later that number had become 40 because of the lasting discrimination. By the mid 1970s there was only one left! She was an old woman who lived on the reservation who asked her grandson Richard “Skip” Hayward to save the Pequot Tribe from disappearing. With the help of a lawyer named Tom Tureen, he first brought Bingo into the town of Ledyard on the reservation, and then full bore gambling. Today, Foxwoods Resort and Spa in Ledyard grosses over one billion dollars a year. Kim Issac Eisler has written a detailed history of how this came about in his book “Revenge of the Pequots.” Revenge is certainly an interesting way of viewing the amazing success of Indian gambling, or perhaps I should say “gaming” in today’s contemporary culture.
In the preparation of this paper I used the following books as reference, as well as various sites on the Internet.
“King Philip’s War, The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict”, by Eric B. Schultz and Michael J. Tougias
“New England Outpost, War and Society in Colonial Deerfield” by Richard I. Melvoin
“Revenge of the Pequots, How a Small Native American Tribe Created the World’s Most Profitable Casino” by Kim Isaac Eisler