Robert Dinwiddie was the royal lieutenant governor of Virginia from 1751 to 1758. He was born in Scotland in 1693. He continued in his father's footsteps and became an accountant. Due to his skill and experience, the English government eventually selected him to be a customs collector in Bermuda. He loyally served the British Crown and, in 1738, was appointed the surveyor-general for England's colonies in North and Central America. It was his job to enforce all trade laws and to collect all taxes in the New World. He took up residence in Virginia and became a member of the Council of Virginia -- part of the colony's legislature. In 1751, Dinwiddie became the lieutenant governor of Virginia. He quickly alienated the Virginia colonists by strictly enforcing the tax laws. Many colonists opposed the tax laws because they did not have a say when England implemented them.
While serving as lieutenant governor, Dinwiddie sought to form alliances with American Indians residing in western Virginia and in the Ohio Country. He was a strong supporter and investor in the Ohio Company. Dinwiddie was responsible for sending George Washington to western Pennsylvania to convince the French to leave the Ohio Company's land. When the French refused, the lieutenant governor ordered Virginia militiamen under Washington to drive the French from the region. Dinwiddie's decision was one direct cause of the French and Indian War. The conflict began because both the English and the French sought control of the Ohio Country as well as favorable trading relationships with the natives. The French defeated Washington and his men at Fort Necessity in 1754. This defeat left Virginia in a difficult situation. Virginia's western border had no significant defenses in place to stop a French attack. Dinwiddie immediately ordered the construction of forts along major transportation routes. He also negotiated alliances with several American Indian tribes in the region, including the Cherokee, the Nottaway, the Catawba, and several additional other groups. Thanks to his efforts, Virginia survived the French and Indian War relatively well. Dinwiddie's hard work, however, left him physically exhausted and in ill health. He retired to England in 1758 and died in 1770.
- Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. New York: Alfred A. Knopf: Random House, 2000.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.