Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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ARTHUR, Sir George, Bart., British statesman, born in Plymouth, England, 21 June 1784; died 19 September 1854. He entered the army in 1804, and served in Sir James Craig's expedition to Italy in 1806. The following year he went to Egypt, and was severely wounded in the attack upon Rosetta. He served as a captain under Sir James Kempt in Sicily in 1808, and in the Waleheren expedition in 1809, in which latter he so greatly distinguished himself that he was thanked in general orders, was appointed a deputy assistant adjutant-general on the field, and upon his return to England had the freedom of the city of London conferred upon him and received a sword of honor. He was afterward military secretary to Sir George Don, governor of Jersey, and in 1812, having attained his majority in the 7th West India regiment, he joined it in Jamaica, and within a short time was appointed assistant quartermaster-general of the forces in that island. In 1814 he was appointed lieutenant governor of British Honduras, holding at the same time the rank of colonel on the staff, thus exercising the military command as well as the civil government. While acting in this capacity Colonel Arthur suppressed a serious outbreak of the slave population of Honduras. His dispatches relative to the revolt and the subject of slavery in the West Indies attracted the attention of Mr. Wilberforce and other philanthropists, and contributed in no slight degree to the subsequent abolition of slavery within the British Empire. In 1822 he left Honduras for England, and in 1823 was appointed lieutenant governor of Van Dieman's Land (then the principal British penal colony), having command of the military forces as well. His attempts at introducing reforms in the transportation system were not successful, as the colonists and their friends at home, who were determined to put an end to the system, altogether, never allowed his plans a fair trial. He returned to England in March 1837, was knighted, and at the close of that year was appointed lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, having also the rank of Major-General on the staff. The state of Canada at this time was critical, as in both Upper and Lower Canada attempts had been made, a few months before Colonel Arthur's arrival, to subvert the British authority, and, shortly after he had taken charge of the government, Upper Canada was invaded by a band of American sympathizers. The invasion was no more successful than the preceding attempts at revolt, and much credit was awarded to Sir George Arthur for his successful arrangements for the defense of the colony. The union of Upper and Lower Canada took place in 1841, Lord Sydenham being the first governor-general, and at his request Sir George Arthur continued for a time to conduct the administration of Upper Canada as deputy governor, it being specially stipulated by him that he would receive no remuneration for his services. He returned to England in 1841, and was created a baronet in recognition of his services in Canada. On 8 June 1842, he assumed the office of governor of the Indian presidency of Bombay, which he retained until 1846. During this period (a most critical one in the history of India) he displayed great tact and ability, and assisted very materially in extending and strengthening British rule in that country. The suppression of the insurrection in Kolapun was largely due to his judicious and prompt measures, and he was appointed provisional governor-general, but did not assume office, as he was compelled by ill-health to leave India before Lord Hardinge vacated the governor-general-ship. Sir George Arthur, during his administration of the affairs of the presidency, perfected the Deccan survey, the object of which was to equalize and decrease the pressure of the land assessment on the cultivators of the Deccan; and gave his hearty support to the project of a railway line from Bombay to Cailian, which may be regarded as the germ of the great Indian peninsular railway, while during his administration the reclamation of the foreshore of the island of Bombay was projected. On his return to England in 1846 he was made a privy councilor, and in 1853 he received the colonelcy of the 50th Queen's own regiment.
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