Born on 31st of December 1738
Died on 5th of October 1805
Soldier, statesman and governor-general of India; while Charles Cornwallis is somewhat unfairly only remembered for losing the American War of Independence he had a rare gift for statesmanship.
The very well-connected Charles Cornwallis was born on December 31, 1738, at Grosvenor Square London and educated at Eton . He obtained his first army commission in 1757 and became a Member of Parliament in 1760, joining the House of Lords in 1762 as the 2nd Earl Cornwallis. During the Seven Years War (1754-1763) he served with distinction and on returning home was made up to colonel. In Parliament rather ironically he opposed the oppressive taxes levied on the American colonies but felt duty bound to serve his sovereign once war broke out.
Cornwallis served under General William Howe in the battles of Long Island and Brandywine, where he acquitted himself well. As British commander in the American South he won a major victory against Horatio Gates at Camden (1780) but things did not go well during his campaigns in Carolina and Virginia and he was eventually forced to surrender at Yorktown on October 19th 1781 . This defeat did little to affect Cornwallis’s career and in 1786 he was appointed governor-general of India. Here he proved himself an able administrator tackling corruption and reforming the civil service. In the 3rd Mysore war he defeated Tippoo Sahib of Mysore securing India for the Empire. He was created a marquis in 1792 returning to England in 1794.
Cornwallis’s last campaign was fought in Ireland where he dealt sternly with the 1798 revolt. In an attempt to avoid future troubles he pushed through The Act of Union to unite the Irish and English Parliaments. He was, however, unable to progress Catholic emancipation and resigned his post as Viceroy in protest. He was not away from power-politics for long, playing a major role in drawing up the Anglo-French Treaty of Amiens (1802). Cornwallis died in India on October 5, 1805 where he had just been appointed governor-general again.
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