The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity
Our history books continue to present our country's story in conventional patriotic terms. America being settled by courageous, white colonists who tamed a wilderness and the savages in it. With very few exceptions our society depicts these people who actually first discovered America and without whose help the colonists would not have survived, as immoral, despicable savages who needed to be removed by killing and shipping out of the country into slavery. In her book, The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, Jill Lepore tells us there was another side to the story of King Philip’s War. She goes beyond the actual effects of the war to discuss how language, literacy, and privilege have had lasting effects on the legacy that followed it.
In 1675, tensions between Native Americans and colonists residing in New England erupted into the brutal conflict that has come to be known as King Philip's War, the bloodiest battle in America history, in proportion to population it was also the deadliest war in American history. The English colonists wished to rid the country of the Indians in order to seize their land. They believed the Indians were savages and therefore were not worthy of equal rights.
The English took their land and disrupted their traditional systems of trade and agriculture. As a result, the power of native religious leaders was corrupted. The Indians were understandably angered by the colonists' insensitive actions, especially since they had treated the English kindly when they first arrived on the Eastern shores.
In June of 1675, King Philip, called Metacom by the Indians, led the Wampanoag, Algonquin, Nipmunk, and Narragansett Indians in massive attacks against the English in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The English colonists allied with the Mohegan, Pequot, Mohawk, and Christian Indians and fought back. There were organized raids back and forth which resulted in thousands of murders. On both sides, women and children were killed, tortured, and the survivors sold to slavery.
The consequences of this war were considerable. By the time that King Philip was shot, the allied Indian nations had destroyed more than half the English settlements in New England. General devastation was so widespread, the other losses practically forced the colonists to leave New England wholesale. Yet the Indian losses were even greater than those of the English. Three thousand Narragansett and one thousand Algonquin Indians were killed through fighting, starvation, and disease.
Lepore suggests that a significant cause of the war was the fear and ignorance...