Colin Calloway Wins 2019 George Washington Prize


“The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation” examines Washington’s lifelong engagement with Native Americans.

Colin Calloway's book examines George Washington's lifelong engagement with Native America.
CHESTERTOWN, MD—Author and historian Colin Calloway has won the coveted George Washington Prize, including an award of $50,000, for his new book, “The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation.” One of the nation’s largest and most prestigious literary awards, now in its 15th year, the George Washington Prize honors its namesake by recognizing the year’s best new books on the nation’s founding era, especially those that engage a broad public audience.

Conferred by Washington College, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the award will be presented during a special event at the Union League Club in New York City on Oct. 24. More information about the George Washington Prize is available at

In “The Indian World of George Washington,” Calloway tells the fascinating story of Washington’s lifelong engagement with Native America. The book paints a new and, at times, disturbing portrait of the nation’s first president — as an untested militia officer on the banks of the Ohio, as a diplomat who gradually learned to work with Indians on their own terms, and, during his final years, as a disappointed Indian land speculator. Unusual for a Washington biography, Shingas, Tanaghrisson, Cornplanter, Red Jacket, and Little Turtle, among many other native leaders, play leading roles in Calloway’s account. America’s first inhabitants, the book shows, were as central to the founding of the American republic as the nation’s first president.

“Calloway has written one of those rare works that combines pathbreaking scholarship with lively, engaging, and accessible writing,” said Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. “Moreover, he examines one of American history’s most chronicled figures, George Washington, and paints a portrait that is fresh, nuanced, and surprising.”

Established in 2005, the George Washington Prize has honored a dozen leading writers on the Revolutionary era including Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit musical Hamilton. For this year’s prize, a distinguished jury comprised of notable historians selected seven finalists from a field of more than 50 books.

The George Washington Prize event Oct. 24 will also honor the finalists for the 2019 prize:

  • Stephen Fried, “Rush: Revolution, Madness, and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father” (Crown).
  • Catherine Kerrison, “Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America” (Ballantine Books).
  • Joyce Lee Malcolm, “The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold: An American Life” (Pegasus Books)
  • Nathaniel Philbrick, “In the Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown” (Viking).
  • Russell Shorto, “Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom” (W.W. Norton & Company).
  • Peter Stark, “Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father” (Harper Collins).


Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the College in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which cosponsors the George Washington Prize, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture, and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs. For more information:

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Now celebrating its 25th year, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education. The Institute is the leading American history nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians. For more information:

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Since 1860, more than 85 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon the most popular historic home in America. A privately-owned national treasure, Mount Vernon is maintained and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Since purchasing the estate from the Washington family and assuming stewardship in 1858, the Association has embraced a heroic mission to preserve, protect, and maintain the estate for the American people, relying exclusively on private donations, admission fees, and restaurant and retail proceeds. Through robust education and outreach programs, the Association expands awareness about the exceptional life and character of George Washington, sustaining his legacy through research, interpretation, and public education. In experiences on the estate and through its digital outreach platforms, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” For more information: