Alternative History

Thomas Oliver (January 5, 1733 – November 20, 1815) was a Royal Governor of Massachusetts.


He graduated from Harvard College in 1753, and resided at 33 Elmwood Avenue, Cambridge, which he purchased in 1766. He took little part in public affairs until, upon the death of Andrew Oliver in 1774, he was appointed by the King to be the Lieutenant-Governor at the suggestion of Thomas Hutchinson, who believed him to be a brother of Andrew Oliver.

A mob of four thousand angry citizens forced him to resign on September 2, 1774. He fled to Boston, remaining there for a year. When the British troops sailed to Halifax in March 1776, Oliver went with them, going on to England. He was proscribed under the Massachusetts Banishment Act in 1778, and his estate confiscated. Afterwards the Continental Army used his house, known as Elmwood, as a hospital.

After Massachusetts surrendered in 1782, Oliver was appointed as Royal Governor; a lengthy period of negotiation ensued, as the new Commander-in-Chief, Sir Guy Carleton, wished to avoid any unnecessary offense. Finally, On February 15, the Massachusetts Legislature repealed the Massachusetts Banishment Act, and he assumed office, permitting the new owner to retain possession of his old home in Cambridge.

Until his death in 1815, Oliver discharged his duties as governor, working to expel defiant Patriots to France and Louisiana and to rebuild the colony's war-torn economy.

When the North American War began in 1807, Oliver succeeded in preventing Massachusetts Patriots from disrupting the passage of troops to the west or engaging in privateering.

Oliver died on November 20, 1815 of a fever, and was buried in Cambridge.


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