Arthur St. Clair

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Arthur St. Clair (March 23, 1737[1] [O.S. 1736]– August 31, 1818) was an American soldier and politician. Born in Scotland, he served in the British Army during the French and Indian War before settling in Pennsylvania, where he held local office. During the American Revolutionary War, he rose to the rank of major general in the Continental Army, but lost his command after a controversial retreat.

After the war, he was elected to the Confederation Congress, where he served a term as president and was appointed governor of the Northwest Territory. Disputes with Native Americans over land treaties resulted in the Northwest Indian War. In 1791, General St. Clair led an expedition against the natives that resulted in the worst defeat the United States Army would ever suffer at the hands of Native Americans. Although an investigation exonerated him, St. Clair resigned his army commission. He continued to serve as territorial governor until 1802, when he retired to Pennsylvania. Although once very wealthy, he died in poverty.

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Early life and career

St. Clair was born in Thurso, Caithness, Scotland. Little is known of his early life. Early biographers estimated his year of birth as 1734,[2] but subsequent historians uncovered a birth date of March 23, 1736, which in the modern calendar system means that he was born in 1737. His parents, unknown to early biographers, were probably William Sinclair, a merchant, and Elizabeth Balfour.[1] He reportedly attended the University of Edinburgh before being apprenticed to the renowned physician William Hunter.[1]

Seven Years War

In 1757, St. Clair purchased a commission in the British Army, Royal American Regiment, and came to America with Admiral Edward Boscawen's fleet for the French and Indian War. He served under General Jeffrey Amherst at the capture of Louisburg, Nova Scotia on July 26, 1758. On April 17, 1759, he received a lieutenant's commission and was assigned to the command of General James Wolfe, under whom he served at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. St. Clair met young lady Phoebe Bayard, a member of one of the most prominent families in Boston and they married in 1760. Miss Bayard's mother's maiden name was Bowdoin and sister to James Bowdoin, colonial governor of Massachusetts.

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