"So Calamitous a Situation": The Causes and Course of Dunmore's War, 1744-1774


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Virginia Tech


Dunmore’s War was the last colonial war in America before the Revolution. This conflict was the culmination of nearly thirty years of intrigue and violence in the so-called “Western Waters” of the trans-Allegheny region of Virginia, which included the valleys of the Ohio River and its lower tributary system. This thesis traces the origins of the war, and suggests that, among other things, the provisions in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 for the westward extension of the Indian boundary line and soldier settlement contributed mightily to the instigation of the war between Virginia and the Shawnees. Indeed, Virginia’s former provincial soldiers took advantage of the waning authority of the royal government in the west to secure their bounty lands, at the expense of the Shawnees and their allies in the Ohio Valley. Matters reached a climax during the curious administration of Virginia’s last colonial governor, Lord Dunmore. Dunmore, who harbored his own western land ambitions, allied himself with the soldiers and land speculators, and instituted policies aimed at extending Virginia’s jurisdiction over the Ohio Valley and Kentucky against the directives of his superiors in London. Accordingly, the thesis examines the royal governor’s motivations, policies, and conduct in the events leading up to the conflict. Finally, the thesis contributes a fresh, complete narrative of the war itself, which has been lacking for some time in the field of Virginia History.



Connolly, Virginia, Logan, Dunmore, Cornstalk