Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess

Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess

(côrnwäl`ĭs), 1738–1805, English general and statesman. He was commissioned an ensign in the British army in 1756 and saw service in Europe in the Seven Years War. As a member of Parliament (which he entered in 1760), he opposed the tax measures that helped bring on the American RevolutionAmerican Revolution,
1775–83, struggle by which the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic seaboard of North America won independence from Great Britain and became the United States. It is also called the American War of Independence.
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. When the war came, however, he placed himself at the king's service and was sent (1776) to America. He served under Gen. William Howe at the battle of Long Island, in the New Jersey campaigns, and at the battle of Brandywine, acquitting himself with credit in all the engagements. In 1778, Cornwallis became second in command to Sir Henry ClintonClinton, Sir Henry,
1738?–1795, British general in the American Revolution, b. Newfoundland; son of George Clinton (1686?–1761). He was an officer in the New York militia and then in the Coldstream Guards.
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, British commander in America. Two years later Cornwallis began the fateful Carolina campaignCarolina campaign,
1780–81, of the American Revolution. After Sir Henry Clinton had captured Charleston, he returned to New York, leaving a British force under Cornwallis to subordinate the Carolinas to British control.
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, which led directly to the Yorktown campaignYorktown campaign,
1781, the closing military operations of the American Revolution. After his unsuccessful Carolina campaign General Cornwallis moved into Virginia to join British forces there.
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 and the major British defeat that in 1781 ended the fighting. Cornwallis was not held responsible for the disaster and in 1786 became governor-general of India. There he reformed the civil service and the judiciary and distinguished himself in the campaigns against Tippoo SahibTippoo Sahib
or Tipu Sahib
, 1749–99, Indian ruler, sultan of Mysore (1782–99); son and successor of Haidar Ali. He fought in his father's campaigns against the Marathas and the British but, after his succession, made peace with the British in 1784.
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 of Mysore. He was created a marquess in 1792 and returned to England in 1794. In 1798, Cornwallis was sent to Ireland as viceroy and commander in chief, and he was stern in repressing the rebellion there in the same year. He worked to achieve the Act of Union (1800), which initiated the unhappy experiment of uniting the Irish and British parliaments, but he resigned (1801) with William Pitt when George III refused to accept Catholic EmancipationCatholic Emancipation,
term applied to the process by which Roman Catholics in the British Isles were relieved in the late 18th and early 19th cent. of civil disabilities.
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. Cornwallis was then commissioned British minister plenipotentiary and helped to draw up the Treaty of Amiens (1802), which temporarily halted the war with Napoleonic France. In 1805 he was again appointed governor-general of India, but he died two months after his arrival there.

Bibliography

See his correspondence (ed. by C. Ross, 3 vol., 1859); A. Aspinall, Cornwallis in Bengal (1931); F. and M. Wickwire, Cornwallis: The American Adventure (1970).

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