Thomas Gage

Portrait by John Singleton Copley, 1768—69

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BORN:
1719 - 20 in East Sussex, England
  DIED:
2 April 1787 in London, England

Thomas Gage, British general and colonial governor of Massachusetts, second son of the first Viscount Gage, was born in 1721. He entered the army in 1741 and saw service in Flanders and in the campaign of Culloden, becoming lieutenant colonel in the 44th foot in March 1751.

In 1754 he served in America, taking part the following year in General Braddock’s disastrous expedition against Fort Duquesne. In 1758 he became colonel of a new regiment, and served in General Amherst’s operations against Montreal. He was made Governor of Montreal, and promoted to major general in 1761. In 1763 he succeeded Amherst in the overall command of British forces in America and in 1770 became a lieutenant general.

In 1774 he was appointed Royal Governor of Massachusetts and in that capacity was entrusted with carrying into effect the Boston Port Act. The difficulties which surrounded him in the execution of his office at this time of the gravest unrest culminated in 1775, and in the action of 19 April at Lexington he initiated the American Revolutionary War. Following the Battle of Bunker Hill, Gage was succeeded by General Sir William Howe and returned to England.

He became a general in 1782, and died in 1787.

ADAPTED FROM:
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 ed.

It is difficult to recapture the intensity of excitement felt by Americans in 1776 over the prospect of forming new republican governments. It is a work, said Thomas Jefferson, of the most interesting nature and such as every individual would wish to have his voice in. Even the business of the Continental Congress was stifled because so many delegates — including Jefferson — left for home to take part in the paramount activity of erecting the new state governments. Constitutions, remarked Francis Lightfoot Lee, employ every pen. ... Nothing — not the creation of [the] confederacy, not the Continental Congress, not the war, not the French alliance — in the years surrounding the Declaration of Independence engaged the interests of Americans more that the framing of these governments.

Gordon S. Wood
The Creation of the American Republic, 1776—1787 (1969)