Unit 1- Political developments under Pitt the Younger


Political Developments under Pitt the Younger

Date: 20/11/2018

Pitts rise to Power

  • Britain in the 18th century was a parliamentary monarchy, with the king at the centre of politics. Parliament usually cooperated with the king.

  • The king influenced policy by his power to appoint ministers.

  • Political parties were in their infancy,most mps were independents, and cabinet ministers were responsible to the King.

  • The house of Lords had a great deal of influence.

  • American resentment towards British taxes, and other grievances, led to the war of independence, sparked by the Boston tea party.

  • North was criticised over the war but was kept in power by George III, resigning only in 1782. This led to the Fox-North coalition government, backed by the rockingham Whigs but resented by the King.

  • Pitt came to power in the wake of the 1782-83 crisis.George III used his influence to defeat fox’s India Bill, then took the defeat as an excuse to dismiss the coalition. He then invited Pitt to form a government.Pitt initially had no majority in the commons and was opposed by supporters of Fox and North. He resolved to delay an election and win the house round by his oratory. The king Helped him by dissolving Parliament at a time which favoured Pitt, and by offering sinecures in return for supporting Pitt. The 1784 election was a victory for Pitt.

  • Historians explain Pitt’s hold on power in three main ways:

    • He was ‘lucky’, having the support of George III and of independent MPs wanting a break with the recent past, and benefiting from a growing economy.

    • He was a skilful politician

    • He established a new ‘tory’ party as the basis for support.

  • Pitt was skilful in his oratory and handling of the Commons, fairly successful with economic measures such as the sinking fund and taxation,handled the regency crisis well, and took a pragmatic approach to the threat of revolution.

  • Most historians agree that Pitt did not form a Tory Party in the modern sense. However, it has been suggested that the modern conservative party has its beginnings with his use of conservative popular sentiment to counter radicalism.

Pitt and


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