Massasoit, a sachem of the Wampanoags, died in the autumn of 1661, about 80 years of age. His dominions extended over nearly all the southern part of Massachusetts, from Cape Cod to Narragansett bay; but his tribe, once estimated at 30,000 in number, had shortly before the landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth been reduced by a disease supposed to have been yellow fever to about 300. On March 22, 1621, three months after the founding of Plymouth, he appeared there with 60 warriors, armed and painted, for the purpose of forming a friendly league with the white men. Although the tribe were reputed cruel and treacherous, the very open and friendly greeting of Massasoit so favorably impressed Gov. Carver, that after the necessary and imposing formalities were concluded, he formed in behalf of the colony a treaty of peace and mutual protection with the Wampanoags, which for 50 years was sacredly kept. The friendly disposition of Massasoit toward the colonists never relaxed. His residence was within the limits of what is now the town of Warren, R. I., near an abundant spring of water, which still bears his name. Roger Williams, when banished from the Massachusetts colony, on his way to Providence, was entertained by him for several weeks at this place.
Massasoit was humane and honest, never violated his word, and constantly endeavored to imbue his people with a love of peace. He kept the pilgrims advised of any warlike designs toward them by other tribes. In person, says Morton in his "Memorial," he was "a very lusty man in his best years, an able body, grave of countenance, and spare of speech." His family consisted of his wife, two brothers, three sons, a daughter, two sons' wives, and a grandson.
His two eldest sons were named Mooanum and Pometacom. Soon after the death of Massasoit these sons went to Plymouth and requested the pilgrims to give them English names. The court named them Alexander and Philip. The former became chief sachem, died within a year, and was succeeded by Philip.