AS British History- Pitt the younger (1783-1806)

  • Created by: elisha
  • Created on: 14-05-11 13:35

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 authoritarianism.

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.


·         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 monarch

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.

The 1784 General Election (Pitt comes into power 2nd march 1784)

Ø  Pitt’s new government did not have a majority in the House of Commons. Pitt could




Very good resource. There is a typo about the first suspension of Habeas Corpus, it was from 1794-1795. Really good notes though.