Native American Nations
                   Your Source for Indian Research
                   Rolls ~ History ~ Treaties ~ Census ~ Books

Suspicious of Wamsutta

 Native American Nations | Massasoit of the Wampanoags                     

In 1662, the government at Plymouth became suspicious of Wamsutta, and sent Captain Thomas Willett to investigate the truth of rumors that had reached them to the effect that the sachem was attempting to secure the cooperation of the Narragansett in a revolt which he was planning against the whites. Willett was told by Wamsutta that the whole story was a fabrication of the Narragansetts to injure him and his people with the English. He agreed to attend the next session of the Court at Plymouth, but did not put in an appearance. The colonists afterwards concluded from some rumors that came to them that he was on a visit to the Narragansett country, and this added to their suspicions, they apparently assuming the authority to say when and where he should move, and never giving him or any of his race credit for visiting another friendly tribe for any other purpose than to stir up trouble for them. The government then sent Major Winslow, the commandant of the colonial militia, to bring him to Plymouth, just as though he was a common criminal, and they had jurisdiction over him.

     Like his father before him and his brother who followed him in the great chieftaincy, Wamsutta had hunting camps at various places in what remained of his domain. There is known to have been one in what is now Raynham, one at Titicut, and one on the shore of Munponset Pond in Halifax. It was at the latter that Major Winslow found him with a number of his warriors at breakfast with their guns outside. Of the three early writers who relate this incident, two say he had eighty men with him, and the other says eight. Although apprised of the approach of the English, he made no attempt to secure his arms or to escape, but remained quietly at his repast, which ought to have been enough to disarm the suspicion of any but an evil-minded man looking for trouble; but not Winslow. He took the guns and, entering the lodge, demanded that Wamsutta go with him to Plymouth, a virtual prisoner, to answer to nothing, to men who had no authority over him. He refused, whereupon Winslow, pursuing the usual high-handed methods of the day, presented a loaded pistol to his breast threatening him with instant death if he persisted in his refusal. After a parley with his people, he submitted, and they took up the journey, his family accompanying him. He was offered a horse, but declined, saying if the women and children could walk, he could. The party spent the night at Major Winslow's house in Duxbury, where Wamsutta was stricken with a raging fever, brought on, no doubt, by the outrages that the whites had perpetrated upon him. He was not their subject, but was the proud ruler of an independent people, and his spirit was broken by the inhumanity of the men who could not have secured a foothold upon the soil without the protection afforded them by his father. Thus are the honest mistakes of men visited upon their children.

     Wamsutta's people begged to be allowed to take him to his home, which the English in their magnanimity permitted on condition that they would return him to Plymouth, when he had recovered. He was called to a Higher Tribunal, however, and let us hope a more just and merciful one, for he died while descending a river in his canoe. Thus passed the eldest son of the defender of the colonies, and thus began King Philip's war by the invasion of Wampanoag territory by armed men, and the capture of the king of the country at the point of a loaded pistol; and yet, there are men even now, who tell us that King Philip started the trouble.

     Wamsutta married Tatapanum, otherwise called Weetamo, and known to history as the "Squaw Sachem of the Pocasset." She is believed to have been the daughter of Corbitant; and in the war which resulted from the series of outrages of which the arrest and moral murder of her husband was the culmination, she followed the fortunes of her brother-in-law Philip, twice her brother-in-law in fact, for Philip married her sister, Wootonekanuske. She was a widow when Wamsutta married her, and, after his death, she married a third husband about whom nothing is known except his name, Quequequanchett. She subsequently married a fourth, Petononowit, whom she left in consequence of his having espoused the English cause; and she then formed a liaison with a young Narragansett Sachem, Quinapen, one of Philip's captains. She was drowned by the breaking up of a raft near Mettapoisett in August, 1676. Word had reached her that the English forces were approaching, and there being no canoes available, she attempted to escape on an improvised raft which was not strong enough to withstand the buffeting of the seas. Her body was recovered by the English who humanely cut off her head and exposed it on a pole at Taunton, where, as one of their eminent divines scoffingly informs us, it was seen by some of her people who had been taken prisoner, who set up a lamentation saying it "was the head of their queen." Little did the poor mourners know the fate that was in store for them, or they might have raised a prayer to the Great Spirit to be allowed to share in that of their "Queen." Slavery, worse than death, "the store of rods for free born backs and stocks for free born feet," was the lot reserved for them by their Christian captors.

     No doubt the apologists for the colonists will say that Weetamo should not have joined in Philip's nefarious scheme. She had seen her people robbed of their inheritance, their means of securing a livelihood taken away under the pretence of purchase, her husband, with nothing proved against him, dying at the hands of the men whose existence had depended upon the friendship of his father, as truly as though he had been given the deadly poison which his people always believed was administered to him; but in spite of all this, she should have kissed the hand that smote her.

Previous | Index | Next


This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.

Massasoit of the Wampanoags

Massasoit of the Wampanoags

 

Copyright 2000- by NaNations.com and/or their author(s). The webpages may be linked to but shall not be reproduced on another site without written permission from NaNations or their author. Images may not be linked to in any manner or method. Anyone may use the information provided here freely for personal use only. If you plan on publishing your personal information to the web please give proper credit to our site for providing this information. Thanks!!!