George Washington's attitude towards Indigenous Peoples

Throughout colonial history in the Americas and Oceania, many Portuguese, Spanish, and English colonists and leaders compared Indigenous Peoples to animals.  See Robert J. Miller, The International Law of Colonialism: A Comparative Analysis, 15 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 101, 161-69 (forthcoming 2012). (available now at

George Washington, the father of the United States, was no different.

In a letter to the U.S. Congress in 1783, then-General George Washington analogized Indians to animals when he foresaw that “the gradual extension of our Settlements will as certainly cause the Savage as the Wolf to retire; both being beasts of prey tho’ they differ in shape.”

Letter to James Duane (Sept. 7, 1783), in 27 The Writings of George Washington, 1745–1799, at 133, 140 (John C. Fitzpatrick ed., 1938).

It's easy to see the future that Washington and most American Founding Fathers and political leaders over the years envisioned for American Indian peoples.  They were just to disappear before American Manifest Destiny.  See Robert J. Miller, Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, and Manifest Destiny 115-61 (Praeger Publishers, 2006; University of Nebraska Press paperback edition, 2008). (available at

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One Response to George Washington's attitude towards Indigenous Peoples

  1. Thanks for the article. I have forgotten a huge portion of information associated with history so it was a good chance to remember something :).

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