If you’re a long-time Mountain & Prairie listener, then I’m sure you’ve heard me reference the author and historian Peter Stark. He’s written some of the most memorable books I’ve ever read, including one of my all-time favorites about the early history of the western United States– a thrilling tale of adventure and exploration called “Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival.” Peter has also spent years working as a correspondent for Outside and has written extensively for magazines including Smithsonian, Men’s Journal, The New Yorker, and more.
I’ve been a fan of Peter’s for more than twenty years, so when I was offered the chance to chat with him, I jumped at the opportunity. The focus of this conversation is Peter’s newest project, an e-and-audio book titled “Sins of the Founding Father: George Washington, the Indigenous Tribes, and the Decisions that Shaped America’s Future.” It’s an in-depth exploration of an often-overlooked battle in 1791 between American troops and Indigenous tribes– a violent fight that was decisively won by the Native Americans, and resulted in three times more American deaths than the Battle of Little Big Horn. The e-book also covers the life and personality of George Washington, America’s insatiable hunger for land, and the United States’ uncertain future in the years just after the Revolutionary War.
You might be wondering, what does George Washington have to do with the present-day American West? Back then, the term “American West” described a region now known as Ohio. Well, as you’ll hear in this conversation, this specific battle set the course of action for the next hundred+ years regarding the United States’ policies toward Indigenous tribes. The American’s crippling defeat led Washington and other leaders to ramp up their violent tactics against Native tribes and hold nothing back in their quest to claim as much western land as possible, as quickly as possible. It’s an eye-opening story that gave me a much better understanding of the ambition, egos, and economic realities that laid the foundation for the modern-day West.
"Sins of the Founding Father" is available exclusively at Scribd, and there’s a link in the episode notes that will give you a free 30-day trial. Scribd is a really cool app that I’ve enjoyed using for e and audiobooks, so go to Scribd.com to check it all out. “Sins of the Founding Father” is a great read and at only 70 pages, you can enjoy it in one sitting. I hope you’ll check it out, and I hope you enjoy this conversation.
"Sins of the Founding Father" by Peter Stark
"Astoria" by Peter Stark Scribd Peter Stark's website All episode notes and links: https://mountainandprairie.com/peter-stark/ TOPICS DISCUSSED:
4:00 – Peter describes young George Washington 7:15 – Peter discusses Washington’s lust for land acquisition 19:30 – Peter talks about how Washington’s land speculation set the playbook for greedy land acquisition seen throughout US history 23:00 – Peter jumps ahead to Washington’s life in 1791 40:00 – Peter talks about writing history in an engaging way 46:00 – Peter discusses his own writing process 51:15 – Peter discusses the historical parallels between our recent sociopolitical turmoil and that of the late 1700s following the Battle with No Name – or -discusses the fallout of the Battle with No Name 1:01:15 – Peter’s book recommendations ABOUT MOUNTAIN & PRAIRIE:
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