Manuscripts and Special Collections

Introduction to Sir Henry Clinton & the War for America

General Sir Henry Clinton (1738-1795)

General Sir Henry Clinton (1738-1795)

From The Popular History of England by Charles Knight, Vol. VI (London: Bradbury and Evans, 1860)

The idea for an Archive Teaching Unit on the American War of Independence came to the Keeper of the Manuscripts, M.A. Welch, while in conversation with Mr. J.L. Stewart, a teacher who for a long time was actively associated with the Manuscripts Department in the educational use of archives.  

It was produced to complement an exhibition of manuscripts about the American War of Independence, displayed during the spring and summer of 1976, as part of Nottingham University's contribution to the Bicentenary celebrations.

The compiler felt that although there was a great deal in print about this war, its nature, causes and campaigns, there was room for a unit incorporating some little known contemporary correspondence. It was hoped that the hopes, fears and uncertainties expressed in the letters home by General Sir Henry Clinton (1738-1795) would give readers some idea of what it was like to be an active British participant.

This account does not claim to be either impartial or complete. Sir Henry was commander-in-chief in America from 1778 to 1782, a role about which he always had substantial reservations. As the man who has traditionally carried most of the 'blame' for the British disaster at Yorktown in 1781, his view of the problems of America and the War are of great significance.


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