Metacom was the 2nd son of Massasoit. He became a chief in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta (or King Alexander) died. Wamsutta's widow Weetamoo (d. 1676), sachem of the Pocassets, was his ally and friend for the rest of her life. Metacom married Weetamoo's younger sister Wootonekanuske.
At first he 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 continued expanding, pushing hostile tribes east, thereby encroaching on his territory.
Finally, in 1671 the colonial leaders of the Plymouth Colony forced major concessions from him. He surrendered much of his tribe's armament and ammunition, and agreed that they were subject to English law. The encroachment continued until actual hostilities broke out in 1675.
Metacomet hurried to catch up with his warriors, to lead them in the uprising that would later bear his name. Mary Rowlandson, who was taken captive during a raid on Lancaster, Massachusetts, wrote about a meeting with Metacomet during her captivity.
Hunted by a group of rangers led by Captain Benjamin Church, he was fatally shot by Praying Indian John Alderman, on August 12, 1676, in the Miery Swamp near Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island. After his death, his wife and eight-year-old son were captured and sold as slaves in Bermuda, while his head was mounted on a pike at the entrance to Fort Plymouth where it remained for over two decades. His body was cut into quarters and hung in trees. Alderman was given one of the hands as a reward.
In the short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster", Metacom is fictionally shown to have been killed by a blow to the head (he was actually shot in the heart) and is portrayed as a villain to the United States. Metacom appears in the 1995 film The Scarlet Letter. In his 1820 literary collection, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Washington Irving relates a romanticized but sympathetic version of Metacomet's life in the sketch "Philip of Pokanoket."
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