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General Thomas Gage Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: Circa 1720
Died: April 2, 1787
Biography | show moreshow less
General Thomas Gage (1720-1787), an aristocratic Englishman, served in the War of the Austrian Succession and against the second Jacobite Rebellion before coming to North America. During the French and Indian War (1756-1763), Gage proved a less than brilliant military leader but a competent administrator as Governor of Montreal after its capture. From 1766 to 1775, he was commander in chief of British forces in North America. In 1774 he was appointed concurrently as military governor of Massachusetts, where he was accused by some other British officials of showing too much leniency to the rebellious colonists. His dispatch of troops to seize military stores, however, triggered the battles of Lexington and Concord, and following the Battle of Bunker Hill he was recalled to England.  Gage's assessment in this letter was quite accurate. Following the end of the French and Indian War, the Iroquois and other tribes in the trans-Appalachian West were no longer able to play the French against the British in order to preserve their territorial integrity. That realization helped prompt Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763. The Royal Proclamation Line of 1763 set the boundary between British colonial settlements and Indian territory, much to the chagrin of land-hungry colonists who were already penetrating the trans-Appalachian West. Gage addressed this letter to Sir William Johnson (1715-1774), an Anglo-Irish landowner in New York, who spoke the Mohawk language and enjoyed especially good relations with the Iroquois, whose customs he knew well. Johnson commanded Iroquois and colonial troops during the French and Indian War, and served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1756 until his death. Johnson's efforts, supported by Gage, contributed to the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768), between Britain and the Six Nations, whereby the latter sold land in western Pennsylvania and modern Kentucky and West Virginia, including southern lands occupied by other Indian nations. A revised Proclamation Line limiting colonial westward settlement did little to ease the pressure of white settlers continuing to encroach on Indian lands and became a principal complaint by those rebelled against British rule in 1775.

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