Friday, April 29, 2011
Born into an aristocratic family and educatedat Eton and Cambridge, Cornwallis joined the British army in 1757, seeing action in the Seven Years War. Upon his father's death in 1762 he became Earl Cornwallis and entered the House of Lords. Promoted to colonel 1766, he next saw military actions in 1776 in the American War of Independence.
Active in the advance forces of many campaigns, in 1776 he notably made possible the battle of Princeton, an embarrassing British defeat, surrendered his army at Yorktown in Oct. 1781 after an extended campaign which was marked by disagreements between him and his superior , General Sir Henry Clinton, which became public knowledge after the war.
Despite this defeat, Cornwallis retained the confidence of successive British Governments and continued to enjoy an active career. Knighted in 1786, he was in that year appointed to the Governor General and Commander-in-chief in India, where he enacted numerous significant reforms within the East India Company and its territories, including the Cornwallis code , part of which implemented important land taxation reforms known as the Permanent Settlement. From 1789 to 1792 he led British and Company forces in the third Anglo-Mysore War to defeat the Mysorean ruler Tipu Sultan.