George Washington and Native Americans: "learn Our Arts and Ways of Life"
George Washington had contact with Native Americans throughout most of his life. His first encounter as a teenager left him with the impression that they were nothing more than an "ignorant people." As a young man he fought both alongside and against Native Americans during the French and Indian War and gained a grudging respect for their fighting abilities. During the American Revolution, Washington made it clear that he welcomed Indian allies as friends but would do his utmost to crush Indian enemies. As president, he sought to implement a program to "civilize" Native Americans by teaching them methods of agriculture and providing the implements of husbandry that would enable them to become proficient farmers--the only way, he believed, Native Americans would survive in a white-dominated society. Yet he discovered that his government could not protect Indian lands as guaranteed in countless treaties, and the hunger for Indian land by white settlers was so rapacious that it could not be controlled by an inadequate federal military establishment. While Washington appeared to admit the failure of the program, this book--a unique and necessary exploration of Washington's experience with and thoughts on Native Americans--contends he deserves credit for his continued efforts to implement a policy based on the just treatment of America's indigenous peoples.
Distributed for George Mason University Press