Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

John Bohstedt

Committee Members



The purpose of this study was to examine the ideological impetus to the founding of the second British Empire. The loss of the thirteen North American colonies left the British Empire in a state of crisis. Yet, by the early nineteenth century, the British Empire was once again in a position of global dominance. Many historians have theorized over how Britain united to face and overcome this period of crisis. One historian, C.A. Bayly, has argued that British elites rallied behind a progressive conservative ideology, which became the prerequisite to the founding of the second British Empire.

To test this theory, this thesis will examine a case study in imperial service, Lord Charles Cornwallis's service in America, India, and Ireland. Why was Lord Cornwallis, who met so much failure in America, appointed to the crisis points around the empire? What does he symbolize to the empire? How did Lord Cornwallis stabilize the empire and play a significant role in the imperial revival?

This thesis will use official and personal correspondence, government documents, and historical research to illuminate these questions.

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