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Patricia U. Bonomi: (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Pp. xiv, 290. $29.95.)
The historian Patricia Bonomi seeks to brush away the myth and legend that has surrounded the legacy of Edward Hyde, Viscount Cornbury, for more than two centuries. As an English governor in colonial America, Cornbury was already a stock villain in the American version of Whig history. This reading of the colonial American history sees it progressing toward its inexorable climax: the American Revolution. Bonomi wants her readers to rethink some of the assumptions that have long influenced how Americans conceive of their colonial past.
Cornbury was governor of New York and New Jersey from 1702-1708. He was accused of having worn women's clothes in public as governor, a piece of lore which has had a remarkable currency. The charges of transvestism were in William Smith's 1757 History of the Province of New York, and have appeared in American books and newspapers in our own time. Bonomi was struck in her research by the contrast between the contemporary reports she read on Cornbury's talents and character with his unflattering historical …