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Chapter Three. Treating American Indians as ‘Slaves’, ‘Dogs’, and Unwanted Allies: George Washington, Edward Braddock, and the Influence of Ethnocentrism and Diplomatic Pragmatism in Ohio Valley Military Relations, 1753–1755

John K. Rowland


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Consecutive military disasters in the Ohio Valley in 1754–55 under Virginia Colonel George Washington at Fort Necessity and British Major General Edward Braddock at the Monongahela River were catalysts of the French and Indian War. Since then, critics have focused on their failure to secure sufficient Native support and their alienation of potential allies as key causes of defeat. Modern scholars identify these failings as ethnocentrism (the assumption that one's own culture is inherently superior to others, often expressed as condescension or contempt) and see it as the operative factor in disrupted relations ( Jennings (1985) 155; McConnell (1992) 119; Anderson (2000) 95). They base this conclusion largely on the speeches of three Ohio Indian leaders. The Seneca Tanaghrisson condemned Washington because he “commanded the Indians as his slaves” and refused to accept military advice. The Oneida Scarouady called Braddock a “bad man” who “looked upon us as dogs” and also ignored advice. Similarly, the Delaware Shingas bitingly recited Braddock's rejection of alliance because “he did not need their help” and foresaw no place for “Savages” in a postwar Ohio Valley. Despite the continuing explanatory appeal of these powerful pejorative claims and the raw emotional angst still resonating from them, no one has explained why the speakers used only relatively mild examples of military ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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