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Governor John Wentworth and the American Revolution
The English Connection
Paul W. Wilderson

1994 • 380 pp. 14 illus. 3 maps. 6 x 9"
Biography / Colonial History / Portsmouth

$35.00 Paperback, 978-1-58465-368-4

The story of the last royal governor of New Hampshire.

John Wentworth, the last royal governor of New Hampshire, is generally agreed to have been an able, honest, and forthright leader. Given his strong personal and business ties to the colony, historians and scholars have long puzzled over why, when the American Revolution came, Wentworth broke with his family and native land to become a loyalist. Paul W. Wilderson explores this question in an engaging and readable narrative of Wentworth's life and career that challenges traditional assumptions about loyalists.

Probably no governor in North America took more genuine interest or greater pride in his colony than John Wentworth. His roots were five generations deep in New Hampshire soil. As governor, he was deeply troubled by the growing rift between the colonies and Great Britain. From 1767, when he became governor, to 1775, when he left, Wentworth never agreed with colonial policies handed down at Whitehall and did not view himself as a loyalist. Why then did he abandon New Hampshire in support of British authority and imperial policies?

To answer that question, Wilderson analyzes the special connection Wentworth developed with England through his distant relative, the Marquis of Rockingham. Since Wentworth had worked closely with Rockingham, then head of the British government, to repeal the Stamp Act, he believed that a compromise with the colonies was possible. Blinded to the reality that war was inevitable and the split between Britain and American irreconcilable, Wilderson argues, Wentworth left New Hampshire in 1775 fully expecting to return to his native land.

Reviews / Endorsements

“Wilderson's research is very thorough, his prose moves and convinces, and he relates Wentworth to the upheavals in the imperial administration that authentically constituted the American Revolution in New Hampshire.”—Robert M. Calhoon, University of North Caroline at Greensboro

“Historians tend to forget about colonies like New Hampshire. We concentrate on Massachusetts, Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania, and know little about the more moderate colonies. To understand how all thirteen colonies came to the same conclusions about the need for independence, we must analyze the 'lesser' as well as the more 'important' colonies. In all these senses, Wilderson's book fills a gap in historical scholarship.”—Sheila L. Skemp, University of Mississippi

“An important addition to the literature on New Hampshire's role in the coming of revolution, Governor John Wentworth and the American Revolution gives us a fuller treatment than any previous book of Wentworth's activities while in England, his relationship to the Marquis of Rockingham, his ties to other English officials, the politics of the Livius case, and the collapse of royal authority in Portsmouth during 1774 and 1775. Wilderson's portrait of the colony's last royal governor is both sympathetic and convincing.”—Jere Daniell, Dartmouth College

PAUL WILDERSON is Executive Editor at the Naval Institute Press in Annapolis, Maryland. He holds degrees in history from the Univesity of Colorado and the University of Denver, and a Ph.D. in early American history from the University of New Hampshire. His articles on colonial history have appeared in Historical New Hampshire, American Quarterly, and the Boston Globe.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:01:08 -0500