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‘The Half-King’
Impressions of The Journal of Major George Washington (1754)


The Half-King was the key protagonist in the ignition of the French and Indian War. He was an adopted Englishman living as a chief of the Seneca, the foremost tribe of the Six Iroquois Nations. He had much sway over the Algonquin-speaking Delaware, who were a mixed-race tribe that did not exist before European contact and who had a King. Tribes with Kings were Algonquin folk actually organized under English political pressure and often had mixed race or adopted chiefs. The Half-King also seemed to be in a position to influence the Shawnee who were known to aggressively adopt European American captives. He even seemed to be in a position to give orders to the Mingos, who were a hybrid network of tribal survivors and Plantation runaways. He was also named Tanacharison and seems to have spoken directly to Washington in English on multiple occasions and with great articulation—at least according to Washington who does seem to have been scrupulously honest in his journals, even admitting his intrigues against the French.

In Washington’s journal we discover that Shawnees raid deep into South Carolina, with six of their warriors captured and ransomed out of a gaol, demonstrating a deep understanding of internal aspects of English Plantation Society. We also discover that one band of Indians, heading south to war on unspecified enemies—possibly Cherokee—turned back when they came across a homestead where all but one woman with fair hair—apparently a servant girl—were slain by French Indians. The killers and these Indians did not harm the girl, for any number of reasons and Washington did nothing to aid her demonstrating zero racial identity on this score. Might Washington’s callousness and the multiple cases of Indian mercy have had to do with the girl’s low social status?

Also, discussed is the rum-drinking Queen Alliquipa, who like much of Plantation America royalty in European zones of influence, such as the Queen of Pamunky, King Henry and Powhatan and Mosco were either half-breeds or adopted European Americans. The designation of “king” or “queen” is a dead giveaway that such is the case.

Finally, there was a South Carolina boy of either English, Irish or Scottish race whose family was slaughtered by New York Iroquois [probably Tuscaroras who fled from the Carolinas to New York and could be expected to raid their after their dispossession], demonstrating that these tribesmen were willing to raid a thousand miles from home through trackless wilderness for 8 scalps and one boy, who they sold to the French, who returned him to Boston. Was the boy sought for military intelligence concerning South Carolina? The French and the Spanish were arming Florida Indians to counter English expansion in Georgia, which had been partitioned as a freeman military colony from the Carolinas only a few years before. If adoption were the goal, the boy would have been abandoned as unfit in the Carolinas or adopted, not returned to the French.

Washington’s Journal also describes the ill-health or injury of White-Thunder, another Iroquois chief with an Anglo name, given in the age [1730s to 50s] when “white” became a general racial designation for Europeans and European Americans rather than “Christian,” an evolution in English terminology heavily influenced by the North African Muslim trade in Europeans and Dutch-German-American slave trade.

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