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Field Marshal Jeffery[n 1] Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst, KB (29 January 1717 – 3 August 1797) served as an officer in the British Army and as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces.

Amherst is best known as the architect

Field Marshal Jeffery[n 1] Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst, KB (29 January 1717 – 3 August 1797) served as an officer in the British Army and as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces.

Amherst is best known as the architect of Britain's successful campaign to conquer the territory of New France during the Seven Years' War. Under his command, British forces captured the cities of Louisbourg, Quebec City and Montreal, as well as several major fortresses. He was also the first British Governor General in the territories that eventually became Canada. Numerous places and streets are named for him, in both Canada and the United States.

Amherst's legacy is controversial due to his expressed desire to exterminate the race of indigenous people during Pontiac's War, and his advocacy of biological warfare in the form of gifting blankets infected with smallpox as a weapon,[1] notably at the Siege of Fort Pitt. This has led to a reconsideration of his legacy. In 2019, the City of Montreal removed his name from a street in the city, renaming it Rue Atateken, from the Kanien'kéha Mohawk language.[2] The town of Amherst, Nova Scotia is also considering renaming in light of recent movements to reconsider the naming of "towns, streets and monuments that celebrate past war heroes whom, seen through today's ethical lens are not people who behaved in ways that we respect today,"[3] as is the town of Amherstburg, Ontario.[4]

In June 1

In June 1780, Amherst oversaw the British army as they suppressed the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots in London. After the outbreak of rioting Amherst deployed the small London garrison of Horse and Foot Guards as best as he could but was hindered by the reluctance of the civil magistrates to authorise decisive action against the rioters.[47] Line troops and militia were brought in from surrounding counties, swelling the forces at Amherst's disposal to over 15,000, many of whom were quartered in tents in Hyde Park, and a form of martial law was declared, giving the troops the authority to fire on crowds if the Riot Act had first been read. Although order was eventually restored, Amherst was personally alarmed by the failure of the authorities to suppress the riots.[48] In the wake of the Gordon Riots, Amherst was forced to resign as Commander-in-Chief in February 1782 and was replaced by Henry Conway.[37] On 23 March 1782 he became captain and colonel of the 2nd Troop of Horse Guards.[49]

French Revolutionary Wars

On 8 July 1788, he became colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards[50] and on 30 August 1788 he was created Baron Amherst (this time with the territorial designation of Montreal in the County of Kent) with a special provision that would allow this title to pass to his nephew (as Amherst was childless, the Holmesdale title became extinct upon his death).[51] With the advent of the French Revolutionary Wars, Amherst was recalled as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in January 1793: however is generally criticised for allowing the armed forces to slide into acute decline, a direct cause of the failure of the early campaigns in the Low Countries: Pitt the Younger said of him "his age, and perhaps his natural temper, are little suited to the activity and the energy which the present moment calls for".[52] Horace Walpole called him "that log of wood whose stupidity and incapacity are past belief".[53] "He allowed innumerable abuses to grow up in the army… He kept his command, though almost in his dotage, with a tenacity that cannot be too much censured".[54] He retired from that post in February 1795, to be replaced by the Duke of York, and was promoted to the rank of field marshal on 30 July 1796.[55] He retired to his home at Montreal Park[56] and died on 3 August 1797.[37] He was buried in the Parish Church at Sevenoaks.[6]

Family

In 1753 he married Jane Dalison (1723–1765).In 1753 he married Jane Dalison (1723–1765).[57] Following her death he married Elizabeth Cary (1740–1830), daughter of Lieutenant General George Cary (1712–1792),[58] who later became Lady Amherst of Holmesdale, on 26 March 1767.[6] There were no children by either marriage.[6]

Legacy

Several places are named for him: Amherstburg, Ontario (location of General Amherst High School),[59] Amherst, Massachusetts (location of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Hampshire College and Amherst College),[60] Amherst, New Hampshire,[61] Amherst, Nova Scotia,[62] Amherst, New York[63] and Amherst County, Virginia.[64]

Movement to reconsider Amherst's legacy

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