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BIOGRAPHIES

CORNWALLIS, Charles

(1738-1805) Baron


Born in London, 1738, Charles Mann, 2nd Marquis of Cornwallis, participated in the American War of Independence (1775-1783). Despite his victories at Camden (1780) and  Guilford Courthouse (1781), his capitulation at Yorktown in the face of the Franco-American forces under Rochambeau and Washington on 19 October, 1781, led directly to American independence via the Treaty of Versailles.
Governor General of India (1786-1793), he reformed the Indian civil service (the Cornwallis Code) and defeated Tippu Sahib in the third of the four Mysore Wars.
Viceroy of Ireland (1798-1801), he suppressed the Irish rebellion of 1798 and defeated General Humbert and his French forces which had landed in Ireland in August, 1798.

Marquis Cornwallis was a supporter of the Act of Union of 1800 which united the Irish and English parliaments (the Irish one was de facto abolished) and he championed the concession of political rights to Roman Catholics, a move which was rejected by King George III. As a result, Cornwallis resigned.
 
He was chosen as plenipotentiary for the negotiations for the Peace of Amiens because of his personal qualities and his experience. However, Britain gained little from the treaty. He was, as Georges Lefebvre has remarked, an 'honest man, good soldier and deplorable diplomat'.

He was reappointed Governor-General of India in 1805, but he died shortly after arrival at Ghazipur (Uttar Pradesh, India).

Bibliography

Wickwire, Franklin and Mary, Cornwallis. The imperial years, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980, 340 p., with bibliography
Wickwire, Franklin and Mary, Cornwallis and the War of Independence, London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1971, 486 p.

 
     
 
 

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