George Washington: War Hero or War Criminal?

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Weston Traub
FSEM 103
Professor Hess
Researched Story Assignment
War Hero or War Criminal?
George Washington is often considered the “Father of our Country” to most historians and schoolteachers. However, there is one event in history that remains untaught in most public schools, in order to preserve his reputation, that can make even the most patriotic Americans see their first president in an entirely different light. How do you perceive this man, as an initiator of Independence, or a town-destroyer? Native American raids on the frontier alerted state officials to take immediate action during the Revolutionary War, and in 1778 Governor George Clinton of New York vowed to exert all effort into preserving the “protection and comfort” of his frontiersman (U.S. Archives 9). The same archives claim that Governor Clinton had attempted to gather an army of 1000 men to ward off the Indians, but Washington had quite larger dreams of destruction in mind. Washington had his plan approved before Congress on February 25th, 1779, which assembled an army of roughly 4000 soldiers whose immediate purpose was to annihilate the six-nation tribes consisting of the Mohawks, Cayuga’s, Seneca’s, Onondagas, Iroquois, Tuscarora’s, and finally the only pro-Colonial tribe of the Oneidas (U.S. Archives 9-10). A writer documented that to go about this task of “protecting the colonists,” Washington instructed his men to execute “total destruction and devastation of their settlements and capture as many prisoners as possible” (Fisher 288). As mentioned in Joseph Fisher’s book, Washington contemplated several other methods of assaulting the British, such as seizing their stronghold at Fort Niagara, but he somehow chose this option of exploiting his foe’s weak spot and devastating an entire civilization in the process (Fisher 281-282). The outcome of this cruel game played by Washington was catastrophic for the Iroquois and their food supply. Within this analysis we will look at...
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