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Dalhousie, George Ramsay, 9th Earl of

(1770—1838) army officer and governor-in-chief of British North America


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(1770–1838), soldier, administrator. Although a Scottish peer, Dalhousie was compelled by money problems to pursue a career in the British army, followed by service in colonial administration. Appointed lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia in 1816, he faced major challenges spawned by post-war recession and massive immigration from the British Isles. Among his early reforms was establishment of an interdenominational college (eventually Dalhousie University) in Halifax, an institution designed to foster enlightenment among colonial leaders. Promoted to the rank of governor general in 1820, Dalhousie moved to Quebec City, where he encountered a maelstrom of problems, highlighted by an escalating conflict between an assembly controlled by French Canadians and an administration dominated by English Canadians. Issues of language and religion, combined with the competing demands of trade and agriculture, might have overwhelmed anyone, but Dalhousie's rigid and elitist personality made him particularly prone to failure. In 1828 the London government transferred him to a military command in India. Well-meaning and energetic, Dalhousie lacked the political skills needed to cope with the challenges of an increasingly volatile British North America.

From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History of the Americas.


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