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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $26.95

640 pp.
20 illustrations & 8 maps, 5.5" x 8.25"


Publication date:
August 2019

Imprint: OUP US

The Indian World of George Washington

The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation

Colin G. Calloway

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.

Readership : General readers, scholars, and students with an interest in Native American history, George Washington, and the revolutionary period.


  • "Colin Calloway demonstrates how profoundly George Washington's life was interwoven with the Indian world of North America. This book will forever change our understanding of the first president and the very meaning of the new nation he helped to create."

    --David Preston, author of Braddock's Defeat

  • "Calloway has written an important and original interpretation of critical years in the formation of federal policies toward the claims and rights of Native Americans."


  • "An expansive history...a detailed, impressively researched history of white-Indian relations during Washington's lifetime. Insightful and illuminating."

    --Kirkus Reviews

  • "In The Indian World of George Washington, Colin Calloway thoughtfully and lucidly recovers a lost time, when Indian peoples' diplomacy and resistance helped to shape the new United States. No American President had a greater impact on natives or was more affected by his interactions with them."

    --Alan Taylor, author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804

  • "Finally, one of the best historians of colonial native America has taken up the challenge of putting one of the most important pieces of George Washington's life and experience back into the narrative. Calloway's monumental analysis helps us understand a half century of powerful and impactful native American history more clearly, and gives a fresh take on Washington's own challenges, frustrations, and successes-which together helped shape the destiny of American Republic."

    --Douglas Bradburn, President and CEO of George Washington's Mount Vernon

  • "The Indian World of George Washington describes a critical moment in American history with the beginning of the collapse of what Richard White calls 'The Middle Ground' between white settlers and Indians. Elegantly and engagingly written, Calloway makes a major case for the centrality of Indians in George Washington's America."

    --Dr. Andrew J. O'Shaughnessy, Vice President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello) and author of The Men Who Lost America

  • "From callow frontier fighter to venerated Founding Father of the United States, George Washington was intimately acquainted with 'Indian Country,' lured by its seemingly boundless potential for personal wealth and national expansion. But as Colin Calloway demonstrates in this ground-breaking study, Washington's vision for the West was contested by powerful tribes and charismatic Native leaders who prized independence as highly as he did. Bolstered by outstanding research, deep knowledge, and keen insight, Calloway's new book offers a sophisticated and original study of a cultural confrontation that was fundamental both for the shaping of Washington's character, and for America's destiny."

    --Stephen Brumwell, author of George Washington: Gentleman Warrior

  • "Essential reading in Native American studies, as well as for those seeking a deeper understanding of George Washington and the Native populations of the early republic."

    --Library Journal

  • "The fateful relationship between George Washington and the Indian tribes that bordered the new Republic is the subject of Colin Calloway's brilliantly presented and refreshingly original The Indian World of George Washington. . . . An essential new entry in the literature of George Washington and the early Republic."

    --Wall Street Journal

  • "Provocative and deeply researched."

    --The Daily Beast

List of Illustrations
List of Native Americans
One: Learning Curves
1. Virginia's Indian Country
2. The Ohio Company and the Ohio Country
3. Into Tanaghrisson's World
4. Tanaghrisson's War
5. Braddock and the Limits of Empire
6. Frontier Defense and a Cherokee Alliance
7. Frontier Advance and a Cherokee War
Two: The Other Revolution
8. Confronting the Indian Boundary Line
9. "A good deal of Land."
10. The Question of Indian Allies
11. Town Destroyer
12. Killing Crawford
13. Building a Nation on Indian Land
Three: The First President and the First Americans
14. An Indian Policy for the New Nation
15. Courting McGillivray
16. The Greatest Indian Victory
17. Philadelphia Indian Diplomacy
18. Achieving Empire
19. Transforming Indian Lives
20. A Death and a Non-Death

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

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.

Pen and Ink Witchcraft - Colin G. Calloway
The Victory with No Name - Colin G. Calloway
Braddock's Defeat - David L. Preston
Almost A Miracle - John Ferling

Special Features

  • Finalist for the National Book Award.
  • The first major biography of Washington to fully illuminate his relationship with Native Americans.
  • Explores how Washington presented himself as the "great father" to Indian people while the Iroquois called him "Town Destroyer".
  • Calloway is the recognized authority in Native American studies in the Washington era.