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Robert Dinwiddie

Dinwiddie, Robert, 1693–1770, colonial governor of Virginia (1751–58), b. near Glasgow, Scotland. He was collector of customs (1727–38) for Bermuda and surveyor general (1738–51) for the Bahamas, Jamaica, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Appointed lieutenant governor of Virginia in 1751, he was really the chief executive of the colony, always known as governor, since the two men who held the titular office during his term never came to Virginia. Dinwiddie favored an aggressive policy to forestall the French in the Ohio valley, and late in 1753 he sent George Washington on a mission to Fort Le Boeuf, c.12 mi (19 km) south of the site of Erie, Pa., to warn the French to withdraw from the territory claimed by the British. The French declined to heed Washington's demand, and early in 1754 Dinwiddie dispatched a force of workmen to build a fort at the junction of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, generally called the forks of the Ohio. Washington, made a lieutenant colonel of the colonial militia, soon followed with a detachment to protect them. The French drove the workmen away before Washington arrived and then defeated him on July 3, 1754, at Fort Necessity. Hostilities in the last of the French and Indian Wars had begun. Dinwiddie worked energetically preparing for Gen. Edward Braddock's campaign and the others that followed, but failed to win the full cooperation of other colonies that he constantly sought. His exertions finally ruined his health, and he left Virginia in 1758.

See biography by L. K. Koontz (1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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