Thomas Gage

Portrait by John Singleton Copley, 1768—69

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QUICK FACTS
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.

 

For all their artistic and philosophical brilliance, the Greeks were failures at politics; Hamilton, in the Federalist, expressed horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were agitated. The Romans captured the American imagination because they had done what the Americans themselves hoped to do — sustain an extensive republic over a course of centuries. So the society of Revolutionary War officers called themselves Cincinnati; president, congress, and senate were all Roman terms. But the Roman example was also cautionary, for when they lost their virture, they slid into empire. When Franklin said, in response to a question from Eliza Powel, that the constitutional convention had produced a republic, if you can keep it, he and she would have remembered that the Romans had failed to keep theirs.

Richard Brookhiser
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996)