George Washington dominates the narrative of the nation's birth, yet American history has largely forgotten what he knew: that the country's fate depended less on grand rhetorical statements of independence and self-governance than on land―Indian land. While other histories have overlooked the central importance of Indian power during the country's formative years, Colin G. Calloway here gives Native American leaders their due, revealing the relationship between the man who rose to become the most powerful figure in his country and the Native tribes whose dominion he usurped. In this sweeping new biography, Calloway uses the prism of Washington's life to bring focus to the great Native leaders of his time―Shingas, Tanaghrisson, Bloody Fellow, Joseph Brant, Red Jacket, Little Turtle―and the tribes they represented: the Iroquois Confederacy, Lenape, Miami, Creek, Delaware; in the process, he returns them to their rightful place in the story of America's founding. The Indian World of George Washington spans decades of Native American leaders' interaction with Washington, from his early days as surveyor of Indian lands, to his military career against both the French and the British, to his presidency, when he dealt with Native Americans as a head of state would with a foreign power, using every means of diplomacy and persuasion to fulfill the new republic's destiny by appropriating their land. By the end of his life, Washington knew more than anyone else in America about the frontier and its significance to the future of his country. The Indian World of George Washington offers a fresh portrait of the most revered American and the Native Americans whose story has been only partially told. Calloway's biography invites us to look again at the story of America's beginnings and see the country in a whole new light.
The Indian World of George Washington Review
- January 1, 1970Bob HEven after all the books written about George Washington, this is an important new look at the first president, and focused on his dealings with the native peoples of the colonial American frontier. It's well-researched, with good and pertinent maps and illustrations, with clear prose and narrative, and it's not a flattering portrait. We find Washington, as a young man, begin as a land surveyor, and quickly become a speculator in frontier lands, at a time when land speculators -- especially in V Even after all the books written about George Washington, this is an important new look at the first president, and focused on his dealings with the native peoples of the colonial American frontier. It's well-researched, with good and pertinent maps and illustrations, with clear prose and narrative, and it's not a flattering portrait. We find Washington, as a young man, begin as a land surveyor, and quickly become a speculator in frontier lands, at a time when land speculators -- especially in Virginia, we're told -- would seek to divide up, survey, and sell the lands west of the Appalachians to eager settlers. These lands -- western New York and Pennsylvania, the Ohio and Tennessee river valleys, the trans-Appalachian south -- were, of course, occupied by cohesive and vibrant Indian civilizations, people who were quick to see surveyors as a threat.We read of Washington's transition into the Virginia militia and his inauspicious start to his military career, at a time when the native peoples began to contest the mid-18th Century British-American frontier encroachment and would contest it with force, and would find willing allies in the French. Washington's first military expedition would end with his defeat in 1754 at Ft. Necessity, and start the French and Indian War (and lead to a world war, the Seven Years' War). His second expedition, with regular British soldiers under Gen. Braddock, would fail to take the French-Indian fort at present-day Pittsburgh, and end in a massacre. The subsequent war would be one with much savagery, notably that of American colonial forces.Much of Washington's correspondence survived this period, and he comes off, in this book's telling, as moody, whiny, jealous of other officers, quick to shift blame. He does learn that Indian methods of frontier fighting, and Indian allies, could be useful, which would inform his strategy in the subsequent Revolution -- a Revolution started, in part, by Britain's decision in 1763, the French war over, to placate the native peoples and bar American emigration across the mountains westward into Indian lands.Still, the theme that Mr. Calloway keeps returning to, is that while Washington might negotiate with the native nations, and at times seek their help, his primary interest was in their lands. Indeed, by the end of the Revolution, Washington had personal title to 58,000 acres west of the Alleghenies, and at the peace treaty in Paris, with no Indians among the negotiators, the British would blithely concede the lands west of the Appalachians.We read of the subsequent westward American expansion, and one last campaign by a confederation of Indian nations in the Ohio valley to resist, ultimately by armed force. Indeed, the native confederation would win the greatest victory it would ever know, a 1791 defeat of Gen. St. Clair's army at the Wabash. The subsequent warfare, and ultimate U.S. victory, would take up much of Washington's presidency. Perhaps it was fated to be; the author notes that a terrible smallpox epidemic would, in the last years of the 18th Century, devastate the native peoples from the Appalachians to the Pacific and weaken any further resistance. The U.S. would grow on the lands thus surveyed and lost. It is an ugly side of Washington's life and legacy, and of the nation's founding, but it is an important story. Highest recommendation.more
- January 1, 1970RamaFormative years: President Washington’s efforts to reform the new nation on Native American land George Washington spent his life turning the Native American land for the new republic as well as his personal real estate. He believed that land acquired for a song would sell for a fortune. When European immigrants flooded the country, he owned extensive lands in what is now known as VA, WV, MD and PA. White immigrants settled in western territories in United States, they helped entrench slave labo Formative years: President Washington’s efforts to reform the new nation on Native American land George Washington spent his life turning the Native American land for the new republic as well as his personal real estate. He believed that land acquired for a song would sell for a fortune. When European immigrants flooded the country, he owned extensive lands in what is now known as VA, WV, MD and PA. White immigrants settled in western territories in United States, they helped entrench slave labor. Eventually the new immigrants became slave-owners. Slavery and forcible occupation of lands from Native American tribes became the norm of the day. In the American society, both slavery and Native American mistreatments were divisive, dominating, illegal under colonial laws and downright immoral according Christian teachings. This was painful to the first president, but he also had the responsibility to unite the country and serve the interest of fringe groups which benefited the young nation. For example, he did not express his views on slowing the pace of slavery or respect the treaty with native tribes and their sovereignty. Conservatives frowned upon any idea that would grant rights or concessions to blacks or elevate Natives to the same level as white Americans. But Washington needed native tribes on his side so that he could fight off any military advances from English from the north or Spanish from south. He was also very wary of fierce war between revolutionary France and English Monarchy that would have divided English-loyalists and American patriots in United States. He had to ensure that natives will not aid English or French forces in any war that may ensue. The first President’s Native American policies eroded their rights he claimed to protect and undermined the tribal sovereignty. Assaults on the resources of Native population continued to soar until their extinction. During almost fifty years of his life, the new nation’s culture, practices, foreign policies and geopolitical strategies evolved. He fought alongside native American allies in one war, and waged war against other tribes in another war. But he also enjoyed diplomacy when needed to enhance the power of federal political structure. He made controversial laws that granted Natives their sovereignty and made laws alongside so that they are not independent to make treaties with other colonial powers. They are to make treaty only with U.S and nobody else. The president and his supporters expected that native Americans left their hunting life-styles and became agriculturists and confirmed to Christian standards as mandated by boarding schools. When the Natives adapted to this way of living and became slave-owners and lived like white immigrants, the conservative population resented this change and wanted Native Americans to live as under-class but keep the lands for further white occupation. It was a sad irony to the new nation, but English monarchy kept the new democracy under check by constantly looking for cracks in the new republic and its relationship with Native Americans. The new America was using racial and slavery politics at astonishing scale and English expected that it was a matter of time that a breakdown may occur and beat the new republic in its own territory. But George Washington was one step ahead. He developed cozy relationship with well-known tribes like; Mohawks, Senecas, Oneidas, Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Creeks. He knew that these tribes were vital to the national security, and survival of a fragile democracy amongst formidable adversaries like England, France and Spain. The president also knew that the new immigrants coming from Europe needed land and will inevitably occupy the Native American lands that will eventually be settled in a conflict and use of force. The federal government found itself weak during the formative years. It was very vulnerable to political chaos domestically as well as due to foreign powers.I enjoyed reading this comprehensive work that recounts the relationship between Native Americans and George Washington that lasted much of his life. Here, Professor Colin Calloway of Dartmouth College reexamines the highs and lows of George Washington’s legacy as the first president.more
- January 1, 1970MarciaThis book is amazing. If you have any interest in the early years of this country, the Native Americans, and our first president— read this book. I knew little about Washington as a person, only as I was taught about him in school. I also knew little about the Native American tribes and their leaders at that time. This book opened a window on what really happened in our country's early history and the role Washington and the Native Americans played. It's a bit long but worth the read. Very well This book is amazing. If you have any interest in the early years of this country, the Native Americans, and our first president— read this book. I knew little about Washington as a person, only as I was taught about him in school. I also knew little about the Native American tribes and their leaders at that time. This book opened a window on what really happened in our country's early history and the role Washington and the Native Americans played. It's a bit long but worth the read. Very well researched and written. (I'm reviewing an advance copy edition I received.)more
- January 1, 1970KathleenThis is not a book to be read in one sitting. However, it is a well-researched account accessible to the non-specialist. I was surprised how little I knew about the Indian policies articulated by Washington and their lasting affect. The book also describes Indians as actors, a real force to be reckoned with in the colonial period and the early years of nationhood.more
- January 1, 1970CatherineKirkus
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