King Philip's War

King Philip's War


The most disastrous conflict in American history analyzed from different points of view.

1675-1676: A Period of Frontier Wars

  • Provo, UT

Reader’s Response to James D. Drake’s _King Philip’s War_The notable King Philip’s War of 1675-1676 proved an invaluable measure of the cohesiveness of English colonists and Native Americans, though was fought for various reasons.  The acclaimed novel King Philip’s War, by James D. Drake addresses the issue of political unification between the various tribes and the colonists as a means to gain further perspective about true geneological heritage.  The issue of the conflict being a civil war is not applicable in that the Indians and English colonists were never a truly cohesive polity, despite efforts given to the contrary.  Such analysis is present in initial research of the purpose of intricate ties between the colonists and Indians.

English colonists initially realized that validity of establishing peaceful relationships with their Indian counterparts.  Despite having mutual characteristics of cohesiveness, “regional leaders of both colonial governments and Indian confederations struggled against these centrifugal, localistic forces in efforts to reinforce the power of their regional polities” (Drake, 17).  The early coexistence of these groups was a positive facet of seventeenth century colonial society, though because of societal differences, such links could not be enforced permanently.  While the interdependence among colonial groups both Indian and colonial was fragile, James D. Drake asserts “accordingly, most English colonists felt that it was for the better of the whole that the English rule and the Indians follow.  It was inconceivable that the English subject themselves it Indians or ally with them as equals, even though they were thought to be within their jurisdiction” (37).  This notion of superiority prevailed throughout the ensuing conflict, thus establishing a modified purpose of warfare.

The conceptual analysis of Indian culture was largely collected from the viewpoint of local colonists, based solely on English definitions of society and economics.  The steady growth of population and reception of Indian lands proved dangerous for the Indians, thus proving their actions of appeasement with the colonists.  In regards to the attempts made to minimize the English presence in certain regions, James D. Drake theorizes “many colonists drew on their prejudices and stereotypes of the savage to lash out at the most tangible symbol of their enemy: Christian Indians professedly loyal to the colonies” (87).  Alliances made with the colonists were purely superficial, as a means to appease political division.  Utilizing lines of ethnicity was a difficult weapon for the colonists, given the weak unification of various Indian groups.

James D. Drake addresses the point of independence with the Indians, especially in repairing arms and weaponry.  The inter-tribal trade that existed proved a decisive example of war not fought because of civil division, but because of territorial encroachment.  As Drake appropriately asserts, “they [colonists] fought the war more as if it were a conflict between father and child.  For Indians on both sides of the conflict, though, it often was a war among brothers” (139).  Cohesiveness was difficult to achieve in a society so internally divided.

This particular summary by James D. Drake addresses the reality of the early colonial interaction with Indians.  The notion of King Philip’s War as the first American civil war ignores the obvious contradictions that arise of English superiority and Christian ideals of inclusion.  The arguments presented in King Philip’s War accurately describe the internal motivations of each war participant, showing how the causes can easily be construed amidst various historical interpretations.  The repercussions of this conflict would be evident for generations to come.

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