Title page for ETD etd-090999-172528

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Rife, James Phillip
URN etd-090999-172528
Title "So Calamitous a Situation": The Causes and Course of Dunmore's War, 1744-1774
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Ekirch, A. Roger Committee Chair
Baumgartner, Frederic J. Committee Member
Thorp, Daniel B. Committee Member
  • Connolly
  • Virginia
  • Logan
  • Dunmore
  • Cornstalk
Date of Defense 1999-09-09
Availability restricted
"So Calamitous a Situation": The Causes and Course of Dunmore's War, 1744-1774

James Phillip Rife


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.

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