Spotswood, Alexander

Spotswood, Alexander, 1676–1740, colonial governor of Virginia, b. Tangier, Morocco. Appointed in 1710, he was officially lieutenant governor under the nominal governorship of George Hamilton, 1st earl of Orkney. One of the ablest of the royal governors, Spotswood encouraged settlement of the frontier by exempting the settlers from taxes and quitrents. His measures requiring the inspection of all tobacco intended for export or for use as legal tender (1713) and regulating trade with the Native Americans (1714) were unpopular, and upon petition by the assembly, the crown repealed them (1717). He also encountered difficulties in maintaining his right to appoint Anglican clergymen in the colony. In 1716, Spotswood led an expedition into the Shenandoah valley to hasten its settlement, and he negotiated a treaty (1722) with the Iroquois, by which they agreed to remain beyond the Potomac River and the Blue Ridge. At the end (1722) of his governorship, Spotswood remained in Virginia, having acquired a vast amount of land in Spotsylvania co., where he also had extensive iron interests. In 1730 he was made deputy postmaster general of the American colonies.

See his Official Letters (ed. by R. A. Brock, 2 vol., 1882–85); biographies by W. Havighurst (1968) and L. Dodson (1932, repr. 1969).

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