Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




When King Philip's War erupted in the summer of 1675, the New England colonies entered a quarter-century of almost constant trial and tension. Colonial leaders consistently interpreted each successive crisis and the lingering legacies as warnings from God against backsliding and sin. Interpreting the causes of the colonies' troubles was just the beginning of the struggle, however; understanding, solving, and learning from the trials of the period represented the ongoing challenge for the future of the New England mission.;The most obvious victims of King Philip's War were the natives of the colony. Even the Praying Indians who lived under English jurisdiction became targets of the colonists' anxiety and prejudice. The persistence of any bands in the region, friendly, or hostile, provided a source of continuing tension for the colonists.;Economically, demographically, even politically, the effects of King Philip's War lingered throughout the ensuing decades. The colony's effort to recoup the costs of the war led to a persistent struggle as citizens and towns attempted to avoid the increased tax rates. The need to secure the frontier communities either threatened or actually abandoned during the conflict represented an ongoing campaign in the region. In the area of politics, the war made the colonists more sensitive and more assertive, and this new spirit appeared in town politics as well as in the constitutional upheaval in Boston.;The uneasiness resulting from the accumulated tensions led to a period of self-examination among New Englanders. Puritan clergy exhorted their followers to reform in order to ward off the forces of evil which threatened the mission. The jeremiads of the period bemoaned the spiritual decline in the region, but in the end, their message remained optimistic. The errand would continue, but with a new sense of secular interest incorporated into the New England mentality. Although King Philip's War was not the sole, direct cause of all the problems that plagued Massachusetts during the troubled decades of the late seventeenth century, it was the first in a series of crises and the event which set the tone for the whole period.



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