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…