The Perils of Power: Thomas Hutchinson, Thomas Gage, and the Perception of Authority, 1770-1775

Looff, Kathryn M.
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Thomas Hutchinson and Thomas Gage were the last two colonial governors of Massachusetts. Thomas Hutchinson was the last civilian governor, while Thomas Gage was the first and last military governor. Hutchinson walked a fine line of loyalty, attempting to side with both the crown and the colonists, to smooth things over but also to ensure his upward mobility in British government. Gage, quite the opposite, was focused more on executing orders than political position, and oftentimes was chastised for his caution as a result. Both men, representing two different types of attitudes toward their shared position of authority, ended up in London after receiving a discharge from Parliament. Through the employment of primary and secondary sources, I examine the two men’s respective times as colonial governor and argue that although both were loyal to the British Empire in a time of increasing turmoil, the reason for their individual and collective failures in this position was their perception of power and their handling of authority.

History, United States, Colonial, Revolution