Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase

By Roger G. Kennedy | Go to book overview
Save to active project

10

Resisters, Assisters, and Lost Causes

William Augustus Bowles was born in 1764 in Maryland of a Tory family that enrolled him as an ensign in the British army at the age of fourteen. His first post was St. Augustine, where, after being childishly insubordinate, he was cashiered and provided the occasion for his first grand gesture—he flung his scarlet uniform into the river. After two years among the Indians, he returned to St. Augustine in 1781, bringing with him warriors in aid of the British against the Americans. He was commissioned a captain at the age of sixteen. He must have been gentle born; had that not been the case, he would not have been given officer's rank. He was serving as Captain Bowles in 1783, when Britain returned Florida to Spain.

The Loyalist troops who had retreated to Florida from the American Revolution were left stateless. Bowles, deprived of a profession as well, made his way to the West Indies, where he found employment as a musician, then as a portrait painter, and, finally, as an actor, his true calling. A painting of him in the National Portrait Gallery in London shows him as a matinee idol, dark-eyed, saturnine, Tyrone Powerish, as ready to seduce as to conquer. He was acknowledged to be attractive even by those who thought him deplorable.

His elegant and commanding form, fine address, beautiful countenance of varied expressions, his exalted genius, daring and intrepidity, all connected to a mind wholly debased and unprincipled, eminently fitted him to sway the bad Indians and worse traders among whom he lived. 1

Bowles could also sway royal governors. He was rescued from life upon a petty stage in 1788, by Lord Dunmore, the sixty-year-old Scot who had been demoted by the American Revolution from his previous assignment as the King's governor of Virginia to the lesser post of governor of the Bahamas. Dunmore was a descendant of the Stuart kings of Scotland in the female line; in 1745 his father had followed the Catholic Bonnie Prince Charlie against

-129-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 350

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?