Killing George Washington tells the story of the American frontier as it moves west. Anne Jennings Paris, in a collection of narrative poems, imagines the voices of the forgotten historical figures of Lewis Wetzel, a notorious Indian killer; York, the slave who accompanied Lewis and Clark; Charity Lamb, Oregon’s first convicted murderess; Ing Hay, a Chinese immigrant who made a name for himself as a doctor; and Mary Colter, an architect who helped shaped the western landscape. Exploring the American consciousness, these poems question our shared heritage through the personal stories of legends.
“I became so deeply entranced with the beauty of the writing that I devoured it all. To my knowledge, no other writer has ever before so poignantly, so beautifully, so successfully captured the very power and essence of the American frontier and transferred it into both prose and poetry. One cannot read what Ms. Paris has written without being not only greatly moved by its strength and honesty, but equally touched and haunted by the pervasively compelling images she conjures. I consider this a master work of literary art.” — Allan W. Eckert, noted historian and author of That Dark and Bloody River, The Frontiersman, and Wild Season
Encourage students to envision history through new perspectives in Killing George Washington, a collection of narrative poems that will help your students imagine how the history of the American West might be different if it had been written by slaves, immigrants, and outlaws. Anne Jennings Paris creates the poetic voices of five forgotten historical figures, and supplements the poems with brief historical essays about the person behind each voice. What do these underrepresented viewpoints tell us about American consciousness? How do we, as a nation, create legends, and who are the real people behind those legends? Through the personal stories presented in Killing George Washington, students will consider their shared heritage, and ultimately what it means to be American.
Grades: 10–12, College
Topics: Poetry, American History, Westward Expansion and Pioneers, Interpretation of History, Understanding Self and Others, Cultural Perspective, Immigration, Women and Minorities in History, Underrepresented Historical Figures