Pitt - Peel History Revision AS

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AS British History- Pitt the younger
Why was Pitt appointed Prime Minister in December 1783?
· Consider the structure of late 18th century politics in Britain, especially the
power of the monarch at the time.
Ø Cabinets existed t deal with the Kings business, and their members were
appointed with that objective in mind. Not appointed as a group or come to office to
carry out an agreed programme of measures.
Ø Minister's achievements are largely personal ones, not those of the party. Very
different position to later 19th Prime ministers who owed their position to electoral
victory (mandate) and their leadership of a united cabinet and party much like a
modern prime minister.
Ø To achieve a government majority because of unreliable party support
governments had to create their own majorities with `placemen' or office holders.
Ø `Independent' MPs were `backbenchers' in the sense that they were uninterested
in high profile political careers but prepared to use their position to procure favours
for family and friends.
· The period of political crises and instability from 1782 to 1783 following
Britain's defeat in the American War of independence.
Ø King George's determination to make colonies to be used as a portion of their
defence burden and pay taxes despite the lack of representation in parliament was a
crucial point of the conflict.
Ø Americans declared independence 1776.
Ø The Boston Tea Party of 16 December 1773, 60 men boarded three ships in the
Boston Harbour and dumped the contents 342 chests of tea into the sea.
· George III's support for Pitt as a long term solution to what he saw as a
political threat from the Rockingham Whigs 1782-83.
Ø George III's character and personal ambition and a tendency towards
Ø He believed the Whigs want to hack away at riyal prerogative, and was determined
to resist.
Ø Rockingham dies and Shelburne becomes Prime minister. Fox resigned because of
this and fox north coalition created to bring down Shelburne administration. Pitt was
made Chancellor of the Exchequer. (1783)
Ø Postponed the 1784 election for the benefit of Pitt.
Ø George helps gain support o Pitt in small constituencies.

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Pitt's own political skill and luck.
Ø The period of ministerial instability from March 1782 to February 1783 when the
Rockingham and Shelburne administrations followed each other quickly.
Ø Between March and November 1783 when George III schemed against the
Fox-North government, which he hated and regarded as a threat to his powers as a
Ø November to December 1783 when George III controversially dismissed the
Fox-North Coalition because of Fox's India Bill and replaced it with an administration
with Pitt as Prime Minister.…read more

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Successful or unsuccessful?
Hovering Act (1780)
Ships could be searched 12 miles offshore, to stop smuggling.
Commutation Act (1784)
This reduced the tax on tea in order to make the Black market less attractive. Also
reductions on Wine, spirits and tobacco.
Eden Treaty (1786)
This made it cheaper to import and export manufactured goods between France and
The Sinking Fund (1786)
This meant a certain amount of revenue that the country made would be set aside to
pay off the debt.…read more

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Some say the Jacobean threat was not that great and they did not have much in
common with the French Revolutionaries. The British Jacobin had no structure or the
tactics necessary to a revolutionary threat.
Ø Opponents of the French revolution saw the London Correspondent society as
French Jacobins.
Ø Some historians argue that there was no real revolutionary threat during the
1790's.…read more

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Pitt resigned after wanting to pass Catholic Emancipation which George III did not
agree with he left in 1801. Brought back in 1804 and resigned again in 1806 due to ill
health.…read more


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