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The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  243 ratings  ·  60 reviews
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, ...more
Hardcover, 620 pages
Published April 6th 2018 by Oxford University Press
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Matt
“In the course of almost fifty years [George] Washington grew from a young man out of his depth in the cultural practices, foreign policies, and geopolitical strategies of Indian country to the most powerful man on the continent, whose policies and precedents affected the lives and futures of thousands of Indian people. He had spent his life grasping for Indian land, although he never called it that. He had fought alongside Indian allies, and he had waged war against Indian people, Indian towns ...more
Kathleen
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction 2018. It is generally known that Washington joined the Revolutionary cause when the British took control of the acquisition and settlement of frontier land from the Colonists. His days as a surveyor led to his becoming an avaricious land speculator and he felt British interference in his land business was intolerable. For Washington, land acquisition was everything.

The Native Americans who lived on the land were an inconvenience. He chose to pursue tre
...more
Terri
George Washington's nickname was "Conotocaurius" (Town Destroyer/Burner) by the Iroquois Native Americans. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this well-researched book of American history that was never taught to us in school. Eye opening explanation of George Washington, his family and how they "acquired" the lands that they desired. ...more
Bob H
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 V ...more
Hannah
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
As it attempted to be unbiased, this book really only presented the view of the winners or European imperials. For the full historical context of this time period and subject matter, this book would need to be paired with another book that provides the experience of Native Americans.
Randall Wallace
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Washington knew what the Indians knew: the war in the West was a war for Indian land”. “In Washington’s day, the government dealt with Indians as foreign nations rather than domestic subjects.” So, encroaching on the lands of others has been US foreign policy since day one (and even before). Natives accurately called George Washington “Conotocarious” which means “Town Destroyer” or “Devourer of Villages”. Washington even took pride in the name. George was originally a surveyor. “Surveyors were ...more
Rama
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 labo
...more
Christopher
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Yes, but do you have a flag?" (credit: Eddie Izzard)

A comprehensive, if sometimes dense, history of George Washington's interactions with indigenous peoples of America across his life as surveyor, British subject, Soldier, Revolutionary general, and President.

Calloway's 2018 survey of Washington and the Amer. Indians is less about Washington himself than it is about the Revolutionary generation's interactions with the dozens of tribes and hundreds of tribal leaders they encountered from the 17
...more
Katie
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is pretty dense, which made it a little hard for me to retain specific information in it, but the overall story it tells and the way it recontextualizes George Washington's life is interesting and valuable. ...more
Katie/Doing Dewey
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This is the last of the National Book Awards shortlist books I was able to read before the awards, but I'm a little slow getting to a review! I found it a bit of a slow read as well. While the information it contained was fascinating, the writing didn't do the material justice. It did make me realize that there was an amazing amount of diversity and inter-tribal politicking among Native Americans during Washington's times that gets completely glossed over in most histories. There were an incredi ...more
Jerome
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A broad, well-written and insightful work.

Calloway ably covers how Washington’s self-interest, ignorance and prejudice influenced his dealing with the natives, and emphasizes a common theme throughout all of his dealings with the Indians: Washington really wanted to treat the tribes fairly, but still wanted their land even more. He covers Washington’s ideas of turning the Indians into farmers and why it didn’t work, how difficult it was to make a lasting peace when the settlers kept expanding we
...more
Marcia
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
William Bahr
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A major takeaway of this book: What name did the Indians give both George Washington and his great-grandfather John? “Town Destroyer”! It was a moniker George wore with pride. In a major way, he often felt he had to “destroy an Indian village to save it.” And, if his destruction of Indian lives was not immediate, it was eventual in that the burning of crops led to starvation when the Indians did not find food through difficult migration.

This book is not for the casual reader. It is a dense, scho
...more
Jory
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-group
Read this for book group this month. Washington's journals provided a huge amount of information to scholar Colin Calloway as he took a hard look at our nation's first president's interest in land expansion and the diplomacy he carried out with numerous Indian nations in the mid-late 1700s. Calloway definitely reinforces that land was wealth, and the amount of land that European settlers (like Washington's family) assumed was theirs, offers a good look at our early wealth in this country: stolen ...more
Dorothy
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
LOTS of information. Some what dry and difficult to read.
James Bechtel
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Colin Calloway's study provides a wealth of excellent historical context to the problems, conflicts, and proposed solutions relating to Indigenous Americans in the colonial and early national decades of the country. Resistance and adaptation. ...more
Wbahrmail.Com
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A major takeaway of this book: What name did the Indians give both George Washington and his great-grandfather John? “Town Destroyer”! It was a moniker George wore with pride. In a major way, he often felt he had to “destroy an Indian village to save it.” And, if his destruction of Indian lives was not immediate, it was eventual in that the burning of crops led to starvation when the Indians did not find food through difficult migration.

This book is not for the casual reader. It is a dense, scho
...more
Jefferson Coombs
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
It was very interesting to think about the early history of the country with the Native Americans as the main players rather than as a sidebar. I found his treatment of Washington to be pretty fair. He wasn't perfect but mostly he had good intentions and everyone is human and seeks to gain benefit for themselves. ...more
Ted Hunt
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I took a week long Gilder Lehrman class at my alma mater, Dartmouth College, in the summer of 2016, and it was taught by Colin Calloway, so I'm a bit partial to this book. I found that it really succeeded in meeting its goal of putting the world of the American Indians, most notably their interaction with the European colonists (and then American citizens), right at the center of the history of the nation in the last half of the eighteenth century. There was never any doubt that the contest betw ...more
Ron Ross
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
If you finish reading this book you are definitely tenacious. This book was not a page turner, very monotonous. I had hoped that this book would have some particulars on George Washington and his involvement with American Indians. Some books I’ve read take a few pages to give me the direction to paint the word pictures that the author is trying to stress. This book never gave me that reaction. The author has done a great deal of research however it seemed to me that the author tried to get anoth ...more
Todd Stockslager
Nov 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Review title: Founding Father, Town Destroyer

Early in his career as a military leader facing the Native Americans in battle, George Washington was given the Native American name Conotocarious, meaning "Town Destroyer." While we learn the outline of Washington's career in school, his time in the western wilderness of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Ohio Valley is often brushed over. Calloway has written this history to fill in the brush strokes and reveal how and how much Washington affected and
...more
Kathleen
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This 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.
Chris Chester
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
“In the course of almost fifty years Washington grew from a young man out of his depth in the cultural practices, foreign policies, and geopolitical strategies of Indian country to the most powerful man on the continent, whose policies and precedents affected the lives and futures of thousands of Indian people. He had spent his life grasping for Indian land, although he never called it that. He had fought alongside Indian allies, and he had waged war against Indian people, Indian towns, and Indi
...more
Charles Inglin
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You'll never look at George Washington the same after reading this rather lengthy and comprehensive work. And all in all, that's a good thing. Washington emerges as a complex and very human person rather than the near mythological hero of grade school texts.
Washington was very much a man of his times and of his class, the Virginian planters. As a young man he was ambitious to promote himself and to build a fortune. The former he attempted to achieve by putting himself forward for military offi
...more
Cindy Leighton
I mean I knew we took this land from the Ojibwe, the Seneca, the Cherokee, Wyandotte, Iroquois and all the other people who lived here before us - but reading 600 pages of incredibly well researched details about the ruthlessness with which our first President picked fights and destroyed nations so that he and others could make money off of land speculation. . . this was a rough read. Calloway's main conclusion after a lifetime of research and a professorship at Dartmouth College is that "Washin ...more
Bonnie_blu
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
As Calloway ably relates in this extremely detailed work, George Washington had many admirable qualities and talents, and it's likely that we would have lost the Revolutionary War without him. However, he was also a man of his time and social position, which strongly influenced the evolution of his attitudes toward Native Americans. And while not an excuse for his actions, it does help us to understand why he did what he did (and didn't do).

Washington did not see Native American societies as com
...more
Sharon
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In 2020, when protesters widened their targets of criticism from Confederates to the very founders of the United States, I sought to re-educate myself on early American history through the lenses of Native Americans and slavery. I used the big COVID stay-cation to read and study several top-shelf books, spending a couple MONTHS reading The Indian World of George Washington by Colin Calloway. I could only read about ten pages per day because the information is so dense and thought-provoking. I re ...more
Natalie Pillion
Jul 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Henry Knox in his final report of Indian Affairs to Washington, 1794:

“… it is a melancholy reflection that our modes of population have been more destructive to the Indian natives than the conduct of the conquerors of Mexico and Peru. The evidence of this is the utter extirpation of nearly all the Indians in most populous parts of the Union. A future historian may mark the causes of this destruction of the human race in sable Colours.”

Calloway really is the man when it comes to early American
...more
Charles
Oct 23, 2020 rated it liked it
I liked this, but was left a little confused at the end where the author talks about Washington's attitude toward slavery--I had read elsewhere that Washington was fully committed to the institution, and had relentlessly tried to hunt down Ona Judge, an escapee from Mount Vernon. Here, we read about Washington being "trapped" in a slave-based economic system he privately disliked, wanted ended, but one that he publicly did not challenge. I think I believe the first account more, about him being ...more
Edy
There are two things I find interesting about history: 1-you should be prepared to learn from it, and 2-be prepared for surprises.

Those two statements were certainly evident in this book. Like everyone, I knew many facts, and many nonfacts, about Washington; however, that knowledge was limited to his time in the Revolutionary War and general information about his being our first president, etc. I had no knowledge of the way he handled the Native Americans. Big surprise for me: Washington handled
...more
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Colin G. Calloway is John Kimball Jr. 1943 Professor of History and Native American Studies at Dartmouth College. His previous books include A Scratch of the Pen and The Victory with No Name.

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