Pitt The Younger revision flashcards

  • Created by: Zaynab123
  • Created on: 29-10-21 20:05

Why was Pitt appointed Prime Minister in December

  • Support from the king - The king supported Pitt so many were scared to oppose him, many of the king's friends also supported Pitt ( 100 MP's always voted as the King wished ). 
  • Four Prime ministers in 2 years was too much change. The people were crying out for political stability. 
  • Fox had emerged as a power-hungry opportunist and the fox-north coalition was formed, the king deparately wanted to avoid them and offered the premiership to Pitt
  • He was young and fresh - wouldn't make the same mistakes as previous prime ministers 
  • He came into politics at a time when the country was humiliated by its loss in the American war of Independance and so people were desperate for change 
  • All previous governemnts had failed and were short - lived 

North (1770-1782) - Failure in the war with America 

Rockingam (March-June 1782) - Died soon after appointed 

Shelburne (June 1782 - Feb 1783) - Forced resignation by Fox and North

Fox - North coalition- Dismissed over the India bill 

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The 1784 election

  • Despite being appointed as Prime Minister by George III, Pitt had very little support from the House of Commons
  • The King used his power to call an election
  • The King's electoral agents (i.e. Ratcatcher Robinson) built up support in smaller consituencies, while Pitt himself gained support from larger constituencies. 
  • He won with a shocking majority - arguably a combination of Pitt's skillls in winning over parlimentary and popular opinion, and the crown's power of political influence and electoral manegement. 
  • Pitt put off the election so people would be able to see his success in government and as Chancellor  
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The Regency Crisis

  • In 1788 King George III fell ill and was declared mad. It seemed likely he would die. This was bad news for Pitt as support from the King was important. 
  • Fox immediately called for an unrestricted Regency, giving the Prince of Wales complete power, this would mean power for the Whigs as there was no doubt the Prince would dismiss Pitt and give power to the Foxites
  • Pitt resisted demands for a Regency bill at first, but was eventually pressured into framing one. 
  •  On 16 February the bill was ready to go to the House of Lords and the regency seemed to be just days away. 
  • However, the king miraculously recovered at the last moment and the bill was dropped. 
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Pitt's Financial Reforms

  • 1783: Bonded Warehouses - increased the volume of legitimate trade. Traders only had to pay import duty if goods were for UK sale rather than being re-exported. This led to the value of food and raw material imports to rise from £13 million to £27 million (less smuggling)
  • 1784: Hovering Act - allowed ships to be searched up to 12 miles out to sea (to prevent smuggling)
  • 1784: Commutations Act - reduced import duty on tea (from 119% to 25%) to make smuggling less profitable
  • Indirect Taxes - introduced as a way for the government to raide money, taxes introduced on items consumed by the wealthy (i.e servants, wigs, tea) to avoid popular disturbances for lower classes. Revenue reaching the treasury increased dramatically. But these taxes were orchestrated slightly clumsily - i.e. Window Tax affected everyone and led to poorer classes simply building over their windows. 
  • 1786: Sinking Fund - every year a sum of money was put aside from surplus revenue to pay off national debt (reduced by £11 million from 1786 to 1793)
  • 1787: Consilidated Fund Act - increased efficiancy of taxes as the previous 103 exchequer accounts were replaced by 1. This streamlined the treasury and resulted in more revenue. 
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Pitt's administrative reforms

Administrative Reforms: focused on making governmnet more efficient 

  • Removal of Patronage Posts - the King historically gave out patronage posts as rewards and to friends. The result of this was that government offices were filled with aristocrats who were either inefficiant or had individual aims. It caused inneficient government administration. Pitt couldn't simply abolish these posts due to the King, so ensured offices 'lapsed' on the holder's retirment/death. However this deprived the monarchy of much of it's political influence. 765 offices in 1789, 180 by 1806.
  • 1785: Attempt to remove 36 Rotton Boroughs - Pitt wanted to extend the electoral franchise to more individuals (in a small way), but was strongly defeated in the House of Commons.
  • 1785: Audit Office
  • 1786: Civil List - greater supervision of royal family expenditure by parliment
  • Army and Navy's accounts closed and balanced at the end of each year, curtosy of Lord Barham. 
  • 1787: Consolidated Fund Act - reduced the 103 exchequer accounts into 1. 
  • 1787: Stationary Office brought under the Treasury's control
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Pitt's commercial policy ( Trade )

Deployed a principle of Free Trade

1787: The Eden Trade Treaty - allowed free trade between France and Britain. This benefited Britain as France's industry was behind,  Britain didn't need imports due to the large scale manufacturing of the industrial revolution, so it  simply gave British producers a larger market. 

but: 1786: The Navigation Act - restricted British/Commonwealth/Colony ships with only trading between themselves rather than with other countries. Results was that countries such as Holland did the same, reducing international trade dramatically. Opposite of Free Trade. 

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Impact of the French revolution (1789)

Early reactions to the Revolution: 

  • Pitt - believed internal strife would reduce France's capacity to compete internationally 
  • Fox - intepreted the FR as equivalent to Britain's Glorious Revolution (1668) when the puritans battled the king 
  • William wordsworth - very optimistic, new age, "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,but to be young was vey heaven" 
  • Edmund burke - believed France was heading for disaster by completely abandoning their old government, argued that mankind needed to rely on tradition and past governments, published Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) 
  • Tom paine - published The Rights of Man in response to Burke's Reflections, argued government should be built from first priniciples, viewed change as positive, Paine's ideas were alarming to loyalists who were opposed to change 
  • Radicals: advocating political change in a peacful way 
  • Revolutionaries: wanted a completely different government, used violent methods 
  • Loyalists: supported the existing governement and monarchy
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Radical threats and societies

  • The LSC was founded by Thomas Hardy in Jan 1792, appealed to the working class and was a forum for sharing reading and ideas, non - violent, corresponded with similar societes outside of London 
  • A monster meeting near Copenhagen house, Islington took place with an ugly demonstration against the king after harvest failure saw wheat prices rise, many people in the crowd hissed at the king and chanted "No pitt, no war, peace, peace, bread, bread". 
  • The new generation of radical leaders were becoming more revolutionary in their designs, inspired by the United Irishmen, the United Scotsman and then the United Englishmen were formed but they hardly got anywhere before their leaders were arrested. Even the LSC were becoming more extreme, in 1798 their whole committee was arrested and held into gail until 1802. 
  • In 1789, soldier mutinies took place at Spithead and the Nore, these mutinies were about pay and conditions, gov. worried they might lead to a more general uprising. 
  • The despard plot - a failed 1802 conspiracy by British revolutionaries led by Colonel Edward Despard. Despard planned to assasinate George III and trigger wider upising by the population of the city. 
  • After this radialism lost it's way, limited radical activity until end of the war in 1815. 
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Pitt's 'reign of terror' 1

Repressive measures put in place by government: 

Royal proclamations 1792 (statements by the king) - warned about the effects of 'seditious writings', called on magistrates to search out the authors, publishers, and distributors of controversial books (Promoting uprising and revolutionary ideas)

Suspension of Habeas Corpus - Pitt proposed the suspension of habeas corpus (the right of englishmen to not be arrested without having a trial). 13 members of the LSC and other organisations were arrested for 'high treason' under the 1352 statute which made 'imagining the King's death' a crime

The London Trials - Three of the radicals were brough to trial. The first trial was Thomas Hardy, he was let free as he had a foxite lawyer who defended him. Horne Took was let free as well as he subpoenaed Pitt - he legally obliged him to give evidence - and forced him to admit that he had previously advocated reform, the third radical was also let free a short while after

The two acts - In Oct 1795, stones were thrown at the King's coach on the way to open a new session of parliament, Pitt used this incident to launch a new offensive against the radials. 

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Pitt's 'reign of terror' 2

  • The two acts: 
  • Seditious meetings act - prohibited meetings of more than 50 people without the consent of the magistrate. 
  • Treasonable pratices act - tightened the laws against anyone who wrote or spoke against the constitution or the king. 

The combinations act - 1799, trade unions were abolished, could be used as a forum for discussing political issues and so government saw them as a threat 

  • Possible reasons for the reign of terror
  • Genuine fear of revolution
  • Drive a wedge between Foxites 
  • Consolidate support among propertied classes 

Early historians were dismissive of any suggestion that there was a threat of revolution, they argued that revolution was out of english tradition. Some argue that Pitt's actions were over the top as he wished to scare landowners into thinking there was such a threat in order to secure their backing, or as a means of splitting the Foxite opposition. 

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The loyalist response

  • The historian H.T. Dickinson has argued that "radicalism was less popular and less securely based than once thought...one of the most significant impacts of the french revolution on british politics was through the boost it gave to popular conservatism" 
  • Radicalsim and loyalism enjoyed something of a symbiotic relationship, when one was strong the other was also strong. 
  • Loyalist patriotism was dominated by property owners, but it was very widespread and embraced shopkeepers as well as rich merchants and land owners 
  • Reeves association - The most famous element of 1790s loyalism was John Reeves' association for the Protection of Property. Once established the Reeves Association Movement received government support and other associations were set up in cities across Britain. There were over 2,000 local branches of Reeves Societes, whose function was to distrupt adical meetings, initiate trials for sedition, and distribute loyalist publications. 
  • The Volunteer Movement - This was developed in 1793 in response to a government plan for the establishment of local companies of volunteer militia, ready to fight in case of french invasion.The main purpose was propagandist - gathering support behind the government rather than defence. 
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Impact in parliament

  • Fox retained some sympathy for the French Revolution, he disagreed with the war and he felt that government repression had gone too far
  • In december 1792, Burke dramatically announced a fromal separaration from Fox,his long-time friend 
  • Eventually at a meeting at Burlington house on 13 June 1794,other leading Foxites unanimously agreed to coss the floor and they were given roles in government
  • Fox was left with very little support and towards the end of the decade Fox stopped attending parliament at all.
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