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|Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnial|
Portrait of Vaudreuil by Donat Nonnotte
|Governor General of New France|
|Preceded by||Marquis Du Quesne|
|Succeeded by||Province of Quebec|
|Governor of Louisiana|
|Preceded by||Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne|
|Succeeded by||Louis Billouart|
|Governor of Trois-Rivières|
|Preceded by||Josué Dubois Berthelot de Beaucours|
|Succeeded by||Claude-Michel Bégon de la Cour|
22 November 1698|
Quebec, New France
4 August 1778 (aged 79)|
Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Marquis de Vaudreuil (22 November 1698 – 4 August 1778) was a Canadian-born colonial governor of Canada (New France) in North America. He was governor of French Louisiana (1743–1753) and in 1755 became the last Governor-General of New France. In 1759 and 1760 the British conquered the colony in the Seven Years' War (known in the United States as the French and Indian War).
He was born to the Governor-General of New France, Philippe de Rigaud Vaudreuil and his wife Louise-Élisabeth, daughter of Pierre de Joybert de Soulanges et de Marson, in Quebec. He was the uncle of Louis-Philippe de Vaudreuil.
Vaudreuil-Cavagnial rose quickly through the New France military and civil service, in part owing to his father's patronage but also due to his own innate ability. Commissioned an officer of the French army while still a youth, in 1733 he was appointed governor of Trois-Rivières, and in 1742 of French Louisiana, serving there from to May 10, 1743 to February 9, 1753 and proving himself a skilled officer and capable administrator. He moved to France in 1753 before being appointed by King Louis XV as governor of New France in 1755.
The first governor of New France to be born in Canada, his leadership was questioned and some of his orders were ignored by officials of the French army such as Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, who judged him to be "too Canadian". Although Vaudreuil-Cavagnial held supreme civil authority in Canada and was technically commander-in-chief of all French forces there, he clashed often with Montcalm, the military commander in the field, who resented his oversight role. The two men grew to detest one another, much to the detriment of the French war effort. Vaudreuil-Cavagnal had excellent relations with the Canadian militia and with the Native-Canadian tribes allied with France; Montcalm looked down on both, preferring to rely upon French regular troops and making poor use of irregular Canadian and pro-French Native-Canadian forces.
After Montcalm lost to the British forces under Maj. Gen. James Wolfe at Quebec City in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, Vaudreuil-Cavagnial tried to rally resistance to the British, but to no avail. He was forced to surrender Montreal on 8 September 1760 to Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Amherst.
One of several scapegoats for France's losses in the New World, Vaudreuil was imprisoned in the Bastille on March 30, 1762 but released on May 18, 1762. He was joined by Bigot, Cadet, Pean, Breard, Varin, Le Mercier, Penisseault, Maurin and Copron amongst others. Of the 21 men brought to trial, 10 were condemned, six were acquitted, three received an admonition and two were dismissed for want of evidence. Absent were 34, of whom seven were sentenced in default, and judgement was reserved in the case of the rest. Exonerated in a military tribunal held in December 1763, he was awarded a pension and military decoration.
After selling his Canadian seigneuries at Vaudreuil and Rigaud to his cousin, Michel Chartier de Lotbinière, Marquis de Lotbinière, he retired to his ancestral estate near Rouen, although the episode ruined his fortunes. He died in Paris on 4 August 1778.
His nephew Louis-Philippe de Vaudreuil was the second in command of the French naval units supporting the Americans during the American Revolution. He was present at the defeat of the British fleet by the French at the pivotal Battle of the Chesapeake during the siege of Yorktown in 1781, although he was later defeated by the Royal Navy at the Battle of the Saintes.
Jean-Baptiste le Moyne de Bienville
| French Governor of Louisiana
Louis Billouart, Chevalier de Kerlerec
Ange Duquesne de Menneville, Marquis Duquesne
| Governor General of New France
Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst