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George Washington: First Author of Federal Indian Policy

Editor’s note: Voters this year will elect the 45th president of the United States. This is the first in a series of 44 stories exploring past presidents’ attitudes toward Native Americans, challenges and triumphs regarding tribes, and the federal laws and Indian policies enacted during their terms in office.

Thirty years before George Washington became the first president of the United States, he renovated Mount Vernon, his legendary plantation on the banks of the Potomac River.

Then a 27-year-old army commander, Washington in 1759 transformed his family’s modest farmhouse into a mansion. He also moved the main entrance, reorienting the home from eastward-facing to westward, symbolizing one of his deepest convictions: “that the future lay in those wild and wooded lands of the Ohio Country,” biographer Joseph Ellis wrote in his 2004 book His Excellency George Washington.



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