George Washington's place in the foundations of the Republic remains unrivalled. His life story--from his beginnings as a surveyor and farmer, to colonial soldier in the Virginia Regiment, leader of the Patriot cause, commander of the Continental Army, and finally first president of the United States--reflects the narrative of the nation he guided into existence. There is, rightfully, no more chronicled figure.
Yet American history has largely forgotten what Washington himself knew clearly: that the new Republic's fate depended less on grand rhetoric of independence and self-governance and more on land--Indian land. Colin G. Calloway's biography of the greatest founding father reveals in full the relationship between Washington and the Native leaders he dealt with intimately across the decades: Shingas, Tanaghrisson, Guyasuta, Attakullakulla, Bloody Fellow, Joseph Brant, Cornplanter, Red Jacket, and Little Turtle, among many others. Using the prism of Washington's life to bring focus to these figures and the tribes they represented--the Iroquois Confederacy, Lenape, Miami, Creek, Delaware--Calloway reveals how central their role truly was in Washington's, and therefore the nation's, foundational narrative.
Calloway gives the First Americans their due, revealing the full extent and complexity of the relationships between the man who rose to become the nation's most powerful figure and those whose power and dominion declined in almost equal degree during his lifetime. His book invites us to look at America's origins in a new light. The Indian World of George Washington is a brilliant portrait of both the most revered man in American history and those whose story during the tumultuous century in which the country was formed has, until now, been only partially told.
Calloway (The Victory with No Name), a Dartmouth professor of history and Native American studies, uses George Washington's life as a lens for uncovering forgotten history in this detailed account of interactions between Native and white Americans during the latter half of the 18th century. Following Washington from his early days as a land surveyor to his colonial service in the French and Indian War and his later command of the Continental Army command, Calloway highlights the complex and often ambiguous relationship between indigenous politics and the young republic. In particular, the desire to buy and sell Native land with impunity shaped key moments in Washington's political life: a British proclamation limiting land purchases pushed him toward patriot resistance, and treaties forged under his presidency sought to expand the nation westward into Native territory. Calloway does not shy away from detailing Washington's violence toward Native communities, including an infamous command to torch Iroquois cornfields, and he includes the perspectives of Native Americans whenever possible. Even so, it's Washington who emerges as the most fully-formed character; the Native leaders Calloway mentions, however intriguing, receive less attention, suggesting another book awaits writing on the subject.