Effect of King Philip's War On Plymouth Colony
In the fourteen months of King Philip’s War in 1675-1676, Plymouth Colony lost close to eight percent of its English adult male population to Indian warfare or other causes associated with the war. Indian losses were much greater, with about 2,000 men killed or who died of injuries in the war, more than 3,000 dying of sickness or starvation, and another 1,000 Indians sold into slavery and transported to other areas, such as the Caribbean. About 2,000 Indians escaped to other tribes to the north or west; they joined continued Indian attacks from those bases well into the next century. Historians estimate that, as a result of King Philip’s War, the Indian population of southern New England was reduced by about 60 to 80 percent.
The war escalated from a local conflict to involve most of southern New England and reached to other east coast areas as well. The war killed nearly as high a percentage of the Indian population as the plagues of 1616-19, which had decimated the area and turned whole villages into places of death and desolation.
The colonists won in King Philip’s War not by greater military power, but due to their ability to outlast the Native Americans. The English suffered many military defeats and lost thousands of men, but in the end they won due to material support for the war from England.
Descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims and later emigrants called upon the might of Britain to not only help defeat the native peoples of New England, but to work to rid the land of its aboriginal people. Before the war, the native peoples of New England made up almost 30 percent of the regional population, but by 1680, five years after the war began, the native population had dropped to less than 15 percent.
But, in the end, the English also lost much financially. The settlers incurred an enormous tax burden to mostly repay Britain for war assistance; it held back the economy of the entire region for many years to come.
Despite the losses for Native Americans, the English colonists were unable to stop forever the threat of Indian attacks. By causing such high losses, they unbalanced relations between colonists and Indians in New England. In the past, English colonists living on the still-wild frontier of the northeast could depend on local Indian friends to help them against enemies, but after the war, the colonists had only enemies among the Indians. Well into the next century, settlers throughout the region were at risk for Indian attacks. Hundreds more colonial men, women and children were killed in such raids.
Eventually the Puritan colonies found they could no longer defend themselves against continuing Indian violence, which the French particularly used in their conflicts with England. The colonists asked for military and governmental assistance from Britain. Within twenty years of King Philip’s War, King James II had appointed a royal governor for the New England colonies and in 1692, Plymouth Colony became a part of Massachusetts Bay Colony.
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