In 1779, with the violence of the American Revolution still smoldering, General George Washington embarked on the first genocidal campaign in US history. His aim: to “chastise and intimidate” the Haudenosaunee or, as one of his subordinates more succinctly put it, “to extirpate those hell-hounds from off the face of the Earth.” With over 85 percent of the national budget in hand, General Washington enlisted the aid of military experts, including Generals John Sullivan, James Clinton, and Horatio Gates, as well as Colonels Daniel Brodhead and Goose van Schaick. Together, these men directed hundreds of US troops to ensure the total destruction of Iroquoia in order to clear US lands for settler occupation. This article is the first historical intervention that both traces the geopolitical situation that created the impetus for the dispute and then quantifies the destruction of the campaign. Using the UN’s 1948 definition of genocide and the framework of settler-colonialism, it examines the United States’ broad-scale effort to annihilate the Haudenosaunee. It argues that their systematic destruction was part of a broader ideological initiative during which US leaders eschewed diplomacy in favor of denying the authority, sovereignty, and humanity of the Iroquois.


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pp. 427-453
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