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Thomas Gage

Thomas Gage

The English general Thomas Gage (1719-1787) was commander in chief of British forces in North America and the last royal governor of Massachusetts.

Born at Firle, Sussex, Thomas Gage was a grandson of the 1st Viscount Gage, an Irish peer. On Jan. 30, 1741, Thomas purchased a lieutenancy in the 1st Northampton Regiment, and he obtained the rank of captain lieutenant when he transferred to Battereau's Foot in May 1742. Receiving his captaincy in 1744, he went to France as an aide to the Duke of Albemarle and participated in the battle of Fortenay. He saw action with Albemarle at Culloden in 1745 and was with the duke 2 years later in the Low Countries. In 1748 Gage purchased a majority in the 55th Regiment and became lieutenant colonel of that unit on March 2, 1751.

In 1754 Gage accompanied his regiment to America, where he distinguished himself in the French and Indian War, receiving a slight wound. In May 1757 he raised a provincial regiment and that same year commanded the light infantry in the strike against Ft. Ticonderoga. As a brigadier general, he led the rear guard of Commander Jeffery Amherst's forces at the capture of Montreal on Sept. 6, 1760, and then served as military governor of Montreal for a short period. In 1761 he was promoted to major general and 2 years later succeeded Amherst as commander in chief of all British forces in North America. During the next 10 years Gage remained in New York and was promoted to lieutenant general. In December 1758 he had married Margaret Kemble, daughter of a member of the Council of New Jersey; they had five daughters and six sons.

Gage went to England in 1773 but returned to America immediately (because of the Boston Tea Party) with a commission as vice admiral and "captain general and governor in chief" of Massachusetts. He arrived in Boston on May 13, 1774, three days after news of England's punitive measures against Massachusetts had arrived. When the General Court convened in October, a number of towns sent delegates to a provincial congress meeting at Concord; thus did the colony develop two separate governments. Deteriorating relations between Britain and the American colonies were evident during the celebrations of Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, when Gage's effigy was publicly hanged and burned.

On April 14, 1775, Lord Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the Colonies, instructed Gage to take action against the colonial rebels. On the night of April 18 Gage sent out the expedition to the towns of Lexington and Concord that precipitated armed hostilities and the siege of Boston. On June 12 Gage issued a proclamation establishing martial law but holding forth amnesty to all rebels except Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Five days later came the Pyrrhic victory at Bunker Hill.

Gage's actions had received severe criticism in England, and on October 10 he was recalled. He was replaced as commanding general by William Howe. Gage remained in the army. In November 1782 he was made a full general, but participated in no further military activities. He died on April 2, 1787.

Further Reading

The definitive biography of Gage is John R. Alden's sympathetic General Gage in America: Being Principally a History of His Role in the American Revolution (1948). See also John Shy, Toward Lexington: The Role of the British Army in the Coming of the American Revolution (1965). □

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Gage, Thomas

Gage, Thomas (1721–1787), British general and royal governor of Massachusetts.In the French and Indian War, Gage demonstrated personal courage on the battlefield, but little talent for command. His real skill was as an administrator, and he fully proved it as the military governor of Montréal from 1761 to 1763. For more than a decade after succeeding Jeffrey Amherst as commander in chief of British North America in 1763, Gage confronted the legacies of the French and Indian War. After suppressing Pontiac's Rebellion, he struggled to keep land‐hungry colonists from new conflicts with the Indians. Following the Stamp Act upheavals, he tried to keep smugglers and other scofflaws from flouting Parliament's authority. Gage's mission soon shifted from protecting American colonists to controlling them. In 1774, Gage, newly appointed governor in chief of Massachusetts, enforced the Coercive Acts by closing the port of Boston and suspending representative government in the colony. In the ensuing crisis, he sent British troops to seize patriot supplies in the battles of Lexington and Concord (19 April 1775), triggering the Revolutionary War. Following the Battle of Bunker Hill (17 June 1775), he was recalled to England and blamed for allowing the American colonies to rebel.

Bibliography

John R. Alden , General Gage in America, 1948.
George Athan Billias , George Washington's Opponents, 1969.

Jon T. Coleman

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"Gage, Thomas." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gage, Thomas." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gage-thomas

"Gage, Thomas." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gage-thomas

Gage, Thomas (English general in North America)

Thomas Gage, 1721–87, English general in North America. He came to America (1754) with Gen. Edward Braddock and took part in the ill-fated expedition against Fort Duquesne (1755). Later in the last of the French and Indian Wars he served under James Abercromby and Jeffery Amherst. Gage was appointed (1760) governor at Montreal and later succeeded Amherst (1763) as commander in chief of British forces in North America. He thus had a highly significant post in the years when trouble between the colonists and the British government grew, and the British soldiers were receiving the brunt of the colonists' resentment. In the critical year of 1774, Gage was chosen to succeed Thomas Hutchinson as governor of Massachusetts, where affairs were most serious. He tried to put down the dissident forces in the colony and to enforce the Intolerable Acts. He ordered the arrest of Samuel Adams and John Hancock. In Apr., 1775, he sent soldiers to seize military stores at Concord, and the colonial militia resisted; the battles of Lexington and Concord on Apr. 19 began the American Revolution. In Oct., 1775, he resigned and was succeeded by Gen. William Howe as commander in chief in the colonies, and by General Guy Carleton as commander in Canada.

See biography by J. Alden (1948); study by A. French (1932, repr. 1968).

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"Gage, Thomas (English general in North America)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gage, Thomas (English general in North America)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gage-thomas-english-general-north-america

"Gage, Thomas (English general in North America)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gage-thomas-english-general-north-america

Gage, Thomas (English traveler)

Thomas Gage, d. 1656, English traveler. He went (1612) to Spain to study and became a Dominican. He lived and traveled among the Native populations of Central America from 1625 to 1637, when he returned to Europe. Renouncing Roman Catholicism, he went to England in 1641 and became an Anglican clergyman. In 1654 he went as chaplain with an expedition to the West Indies and died in Jamaica. His chief work is English-American: His Travail by Sea and Land; or, A New Survey of the West Indies (1648), an account of the wealth and defenseless condition of the Spanish possessions in America.

See his Travels in the New World (ed. by E. J. Thompson, 1985); study by N. Newton (1969).

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"Gage, Thomas (English traveler)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Gage, Thomas (English traveler)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gage-thomas-english-traveler