Lord Richard Howe (1726–1799) was the commander in chief of the Royal Navy in North America from 1776 to 1778. Howe initially tried to reconcile with the American colonies, refusing to impose harsh conditions or penalities upon the colonists. He failed to engage colonial-allied forces for most of his command. After the French entered the war in 1778, he prepared to engage D’Estaing’s fleet in Rhode Island, but a hurricane prevented the face-off. He returned to Great Britain in September 1778.