Dunmore's New World
The Extraordinary Life of a Royal Governor in Revolutionary America--with Jacobites, Counterfeiters, Land Schemes, Shipwrecks, Scalping, Indian Politics, Runaway Slaves, and Two Illegal Royal Weddings
Publication Year: 2013
Dunmore's New World tells the stranger-than-fiction story of Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia, whose long-neglected life boasts a measure of scandal and intrigue rare in the annals of the colonial world. Dunmore not only issued the first formal proclamation of emancipation in American history; he also undertook an unauthorized Indian war in the Ohio Valley, now known as Dunmore’s War, that was instrumental in opening the Kentucky country to white settlement. In this entertaining biography, James Corbett David brings together a rich cast of characters as he follows Dunmore on his perilous path through the Atlantic world from 1745 to 1809.
Dunmore was a Scots aristocrat who, even with a family history of treason, managed to obtain a commission in the British army, a seat in the House of Lords, and three executive appointments in the American colonies. He was an unusual figure, deeply invested in the imperial system but quick to break with convention. Despite his 1775 proclamation promising freedom to slaves of Virginia rebels, Dunmore was himself a slaveholder at a time when the African slave trade was facing tremendous popular opposition in Great Britain. He also supported his daughter throughout the scandal that followed her secret, illegal marriage to the youngest son of George III—a relationship that produced two illegitimate children, both first cousins of Queen Victoria.
Within this single narrative, Dunmore interacts with Jacobites, slaves, land speculators, frontiersmen, Scots merchants, poor white fishermen, the French, the Spanish, Shawnees, Creeks, patriots, loyalists, princes, kings, and a host of others. This history captures the vibrant diversity of the political universe that Dunmore inhabited alongside the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. A transgressive imperialist, Dunmore had an astounding career that charts the boundaries of what was possible in the Atlantic world in the Age of Revolution.
Published by: University of Virginia Press
Title Page, Copyright
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After eight years of sporadic research and writing, the existence of even one (unrelated) reader seems to me a minor miracle, so my fi rst thanks are to you.Th is project began as a doctoral dissertation at the College of William and Mary. Over the years, it has received vital support from a number of institu-tions, including the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; the John D. ...
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Sometime before nine o’clock on the morning of 5 December 1793, a couple identifying themselves as Augustus Frederick and Augusta Murray were mar-ried at St. George’s Church in Hanover Square, London. Th e bride had ar-rived in a hackney coach, the equivalent of a modern taxi, wearing a “common linen gown” beneath a winter cloak. Th e groom was dressed in a brown great-...
one • Family Politics, 1745– 1770
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Lady Augusta Murray was not the fi rst close relation to jeopardize Dunmore’s place in the empire. Nearly half a century earlier, his father, William Murray of Taymount, had risked the family’s future on the success of an ill- fated revolution. In the summer of 1745, Charles Edward Stuart, better known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” landed secretly on the northwest coast of ...
two • Th e Absence of Empire, 1770– 1773
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Two ships brought Lord Dunmore’s baggage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1770. One wrecked on its approach to Manhattan—an ill omen. Th at the other arrived safely was fortunate, for in addition to the new governor’s furniture it was carrying a four- thousand- pound gilt equestrian statue of George III. Ordered as a tribute to the king following the repeal of the Stamp ...
three • Promised Land, 1773– 1774
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In August 1774, Lord Dunmore left the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg to confront a coalition of Shawnee and Mingo warriors in the remote Ohio River Valley. It was an unusual step for someone in his position, traveling so many mountainous miles on such a dangerous mission. But Dunmore’s War, as the expedition came to be known, proved a triumph, and the earl returned ...
four • A Refugee’s Revolution, 1775– 1781
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Early on the morning of 8 June 1775, cannon fi re resounded oﬀ the coast of Yorktown, Virginia. Amid the mounting crisis over colonial rights, it was an ominous sign. Two months earlier, Lord Dunmore had set oﬀ a furor when he ordered the secret removal of gunpowder from the Williamsburg magazine. Sometime between three and four in the morning on 21 April, Brit-...
five • Abiding Ambitions, 1781– 1796
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Even accepting that American loyalists came in all shapes and sizes, with backgrounds and motives as disparate as the colonies themselves, those who populate Dunmore’s story are something of a revelation. Mainly from the South and West, they possessed none of the staid rationality, reverence for tradition, or moderation of mind that defi ne familiar icons of loyalty. Hardly ...
Conclusion, 1796– 1809
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The appointment of William Dowdeswell as governor of the Bahama Islands in late 1797 more or less made it oﬃ cial: Dunmore’s career in the em-pire was over. His would not be a restful retirement. Between the saga of Lady Augusta’s marriage and the family’s fi nances, sources of anxiety were legion George III was determined that his son never see Augusta again. But de-...
185A Note on Method
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Th e exploration of eighteenth- century empires seems to require a wide- angle lens. Over the last three decades, Atlantic and global histories have uncovered a staggering multiplicity of imperial experience, the complexities of which transcend convenient binaries like subject and alien, periphery and center, and empire and home. In recognition of the pervasiveness of interimperial ...
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Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 12 b&w illus., 5 maps
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Early American Histories