Pitt, born in 1759 was born the second son to William Pitt, the First Earl of Chatham. When news of this spread, it was assumed Fox and his associates had tried to bring down Pitt by any means. The peace in 1783 left France financially prostrate, while the British economy boomed due to the return of American business. the mounting national debt, and made changes to the tax system in order to improve its great capture of revenue. Because of persistent ill health, he made use in 1776 of the antiquated privilege that allowed noblemen’s sons to graduate without examination. Updates? At about the same time, however, the king suffered a renewed bout of madness, with the consequence that Addington could not receive his formal appointment. From the middle of the 18th century until the beginning of … But Pitt wisely declined, for he knew he would be incapable of securing the support of the House of Commons. [28], So as to reduce the power of the Opposition, Pitt offered Charles James Fox and his allies posts in the Cabinet; Pitt's refusal to include Lord North, however, thwarted his efforts. A brilliant and precocious youth, he entered Cambridge at 15 and Parliament at age 21, 1/23/1781. To engage the threat of Irish support for France, he engineered the Acts of Union 1800 and tried (but failed) to secure Catholic emancipation as part of the Union. Pitt firmly […] The war with France was extremely expensive, straining Great Britain's finances. Britain’s increased possessions in India made it necessary for the administration there to be supervised by the government rather than be left in the hands of the commercial East India Company. Though his proposal failed, many reformers in Parliament came to regard him as their leader, instead of Charles James Fox. William Pitt the Younger: A Biography by William Hague 688pp, HarperCollins, £25 . The king was strongly opposed to Catholic Emancipation; he argued that to grant additional liberty would violate his coronation oath, in which he had promised to protect the established Church of England. [69] In much of rural Ireland, law and order had broken down as an economic crisis further impoverished the already poor Irish peasantry, and a sectarian war with many atrocities on both sides had begun in 1793 between Catholic "Defenders" versus Protestant "Peep o'Day Boys". He increased taxes to pay for the great war against France and cracked down on radicalism. This mutiny occurred at the same moment that the Franco-Dutch alliance were preparing an invasion of Britain. [82], The whole cost of the war came to £831 million. The fall of the Second Coalition with the defeat of the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo (14 June 1800) and at the Battle of Hohenlinden (3 December 1800) left Great Britain facing France alone. The talented collaborators of his first 18 months in office—Beresford, Wyvil and Twining—passed in and out of his mind along with their areas of expertise. The unwise demonstrations of the radicals caused the government to have recourse to repressive legislation. The new government was immediately on the defensive and in January 1784 was defeated on a motion of no confidence. Although the British government clung to neutrality as long as possible, in face of the European wars started by the leaders of the French Revolution, war proved unavoidable. Patronage and bribes paid by the Treasury were normally expected to be enough to secure the government a comfortable majority in the House of Commons, but on this occasion, the government reaped much popular support as well. However Russia's ambassador Semyon Vorontsov organised Pitt's enemies and launched a public opinion campaign. From 1783 to 1792, he faced each fresh challenge with brilliance; from 1793 he showed determination but sometimes faltered; and from 1804 he was worn down by ... the combination of a narrow majority and war".[96]. [89][90] A motion was made to honour him with a public funeral and a monument; it passed despite some opposition. [63] The British historian Sir John William Fortescue wrote that Pitt and his cabinet had tried to destroy French power "in these pestilent islands ... only to discover, when it was too late, that they practically destroyed the British army". Had the Prince come to power, he would almost surely have dismissed Pitt. [51] Though the Pitt government did drastically reduce civil liberties and created a nationwide spy network with ordinary people being encouraged to denounce any "radicals" that may have been in their midst, the historian Eric Evans argued the picture of Pitt's "reign of terror" as portrayed by the Marxist historian E.P. By 1814, the budget that Pitt in his last years had largely shaped had expanded to £66 million,[d] including £10 million for the Navy, £40 million for the Army, £10 million for the Allies, and £38 million as interest on the national debt. By the Constitutional Act of 1791, the province of Quebec was divided into two separate provinces: the predominantly French Lower Canada and the predominantly English Upper Canada. Late-eighteenth-century politician William Pitt the Younger was the youngest (at 24) and longest-serving British prime minister. "William Pitt the Younger" in R. Eccleshall and G. Walker, eds., Cooper, William. William Pitt the Younger : biography 28 May 1759 – 16 January 1806 In Parliament, the youthful Pitt cast aside his tendency to be withdrawn in public, emerging as a noted debater right from his maiden speech. He suggested no extension of the franchise but recommended measures to prevent bribery and to make the representation more realistic. The biography of Pitt by John Ehrman, The Younger Pitt (1969), is an outstanding work of scholarship which deals exhaustively with Pitt's early years, to 1789. "The Character of Pitt the Younger and Party Politics, 1830–1860", Petrie, Charles, "The Bicentenary of the Younger Pitt,", Sack, J. J. [66] To crush the United Irishmen, Pitt sent General Lake to Ulster in 1797 to call out Protestant Irish militiamen and organised an intelligence network of spies and informers. William Pitt the Younger is based on the real-life British Prime Minister of the same name, although in this depiction, he is a petulant teenager. [86] On 23 January 1806, Pitt died at Bowling Green House on Putney Heath, probably from peptic ulceration of his stomach or duodenum; he was unmarried and left no children. William Pitt the Younger : biography 28 May 1759 – 16 January 1806 Pitt sought European alliances to restrict French influence, forming the Triple Alliance with Prussia and the United Provinces in 1788. [44][45] The outbreak of the French Revolution and its attendant wars temporarily united Britain and Russia in an ideological alliance against French republicanism. [52] Evans wrote that there were about 200 prosecutions of "radicals" suspected of sympathy with the French revolution in British courts in the 1790s, which was much less than the prosecutions of suspected Jacobites after the rebellions of 1715 and 1745. But Fox would not consent to join a government from which his ally Lord North would have been excluded. William Pitt the Younger was one of the most extraordinary figures in British history. Addington’s majority fell steadily, and he decided to resign. Historians conclude that the loss of the American colonies enabled Britain to deal with the French Revolution with more unity and organisation than would otherwise have been the case. Early returns showed a massive swing to Pitt with the result that many Opposition Members who still had not faced election either defected, stood down, or made deals with their opponents to avoid expensive defeats. Fortunately for Pitt, the King recovered in February 1789, just after a Regency Bill had been introduced and passed in the House of Commons. Pitt was regarded as an outstanding administrator who worked for efficiency and reform, bringing in a new generation of outstanding administrators. [21] Britain turned towards Asia, the Pacific, and later Africa with subsequent exploration leading to the rise of the Second British Empire. Pitt, although often referred to as a Tory, or "new Tory", called himself an "independent Whig" and was generally opposed to the development of a strict partisan political system. He did not advocate an expansion of the electoral franchise, but he did seek to address bribery and rotten boroughs. In 1792 another act provided that a sinking fund of 1 percent should be attached to every new loan, which would thereby be redeemed within 45 years. From the castle, he helped organise a local Volunteer Corps in anticipation of a French invasion, acted as colonel of a battalion raised by Trinity House—he was also a Master of Trinity House—and encouraged the construction of Martello towers and the Royal Military Canal in Romney Marsh. When and Where was he Born? William Pitt the Younger (28 May 1759 – 23 January 1806) was a British politician of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Pitt replied that he would never again press the Catholic question during the King’s reign. Pitt broke off the potential marriage in 1797, writing to her father, Lord Auckland, "I am compelled to say that I find the obstacles to it decisive and insurmountable".[93]. William Pitt the Younger : biography 28 May 1759 – 16 January 1806 Resignation The French Revolution revived religious and political problems in Ireland, a realm under the rule of the King of Great Britain. In a contest estimated to have cost a quarter of the total spending in the entire country, Fox bitterly fought against two Pittite candidates to secure one of the two seats for the constituency. Pitt refused to intervene to restore the French monarchy. The India Act created a new Board of Control to oversee the affairs of the East India Company. Fox’s East India Bill had been defeated, but the problems it was designed to solve remained. (previous page) (Pitt.) But those who conducted the impeachment acted with unwarrantable rancour; the trial dragged on for seven years and, although Hastings was finally acquitted, the expenses almost ruined him. By 1792, the debt had fallen to £170 million. Though faced with a hostile majority in Parliament, Pitt was able to solidify his position within a few months. [66], In April 1797, the mutiny of the entire Spithead fleet shook the government (sailors demanded a pay increase to match inflation). Some historians argue that his success was inevitable given the decisive importance of monarchical power; others argue that the King gambled on Pitt and that both would have failed but for a run of good fortune. [37][b], Pitt always paid careful attention to financial issues. He was Prime Minister from 1783 to 1801, and again from 1804 until his death. Omissions? [62] The British attempt to conquer St. Domingue in 1793 ended in disaster; the British pulled out on 31 August 1798 after having spent 4 million pounds (roughly £400.00 million in today's money) and having lost about 100,000 men − dead or crippled for life, mostly from disease – over the preceding five years. In 1776, Pitt, plagued by poor health, took advantage of a little-used privilege available only to the sons of noblemen, and chose to graduate without having to pass examinations. His first major piece of legislation as prime minister was the India Act 1784, which re-organised the British East India Company and kept a watch over corruption. "William Pitt, Taxation, and the Needs of War,", Kelly, Paul. [41] During the Nootka Sound Controversy in 1790, Pitt took advantage of the alliance to force Spain to give up its claim to exclusive control over the western coast of North and South America. Despite Pitt's efforts, the French continued to defeat the First Coalition, which collapsed in 1798. France, meanwhile, saw its navy shrink by more than half. Pitt won the vote so narrowly that he gave up. When he returned from the ceremony to mark this, men of the City pulled Pitt's coach home themselves, as a sign of respect. He had originally planned to form a broad coalition government, but faced the opposition of George III to the inclusion of Fox. By 1803, war had broken out again with France under Emperor Napoleon. In terms of soldiers, however, the French numerical advantage was offset by British subsidies that paid for a large proportion of the Austrian and Russian soldiers, peaking at about 450,000 in 1813.[80]. [22], The Fox-North Coalition fell in December 1783, after Fox had introduced Edmund Burke's bill to reform the East India Company to gain the patronage he so greatly lacked while the King refused to support him. Many Whigs who had formed a part of the Rockingham ministry, including Fox, now refused to serve under Lord Shelburne, the new prime minister. Moreover, many of Pitt's former supporters, including the allies of Addington, joined the Opposition. Throughout the 1790s, the war against France was presented as an ideological struggle between French republicanism vs. British monarchism with the British government seeking to mobilise public opinion in support of the war. Foster, R. E.; "Forever Young: Myth, Reality and William Pitt"; Thompson, S. J.; "The first income tax, political arithmetic, and the measurement of economic growth"; The consensus view among historians is that the King was suffering from the blood disorder. [40], Pitt sought European alliances to restrict French influence, forming the Triple Alliance with Prussia and Holland in 1788. The First Fleet of 11 vessels carried over a thousand settlers, including 778 convicts. William Pitt the Younger was born on May 28, 1759, at Hayes Place in the village of Hayes, Kent, England, to William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, and his wife, Hester Grenville. After his death the conservatives embraced him as a great patriotic hero. He had considerable influence in strengthening the office of the prime minister. Following the Acts of Union 1800, Pitt sought to inaugurate the new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland by granting concessions to Roman Catholics, who formed a 75% majority of the population in Ireland, by abolishing various political restrictions under which they suffered. As a result, Pitt resigned on February 3, 1801, and his friend Henry Addington formed a government. Further augmentations and clarifications of the governor-general's authority were made in 1786, presumably by Lord Sydney, and presumably as a result of the company's setting up of Penang with their own superintendent (governor), Captain Francis Light, in 1786. Pitt, therefore, introduced his own East India bill (1784). In Hague's opinion, Pitt's long premiership, "tested the natural limits of how long it is possible to be at the top. Pitt was from a political family on both sides. [11] Pitt tended to socialise only with fellow students and others already known to him, rarely venturing outside the university grounds. Biography. This comment captures well the tense, paranoid atmosphere of the 1790s, when people were being encouraged to report "radicals" to the authorities. He understood the new Britain. In March 1803 Addington invited Pitt to join the government, but Pitt made it clear that he would return only as prime minister. William Pitt the younger is best known as a Politician. Though he was sometimes opposed by members of his Cabinet, he helped define the role of the Prime Minister as the supervisor and co-ordinator of the various government departments. William Pitt the Younger was a Prime Minister in the late eighteenth century and the youngest ever. Of his social relationships, biographer William Hague writes: Pitt was happiest among his Cambridge companions or family. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was Prime … [50] The Pitt government waged a vigorous propaganda campaign contrasting the ordered society of Britain dominated by the aristocracy and the gentry vs. the "anarchy" of the French revolution and always sought to associate British "radicals" with the revolution in France. However, although it was widely predicted that the new "mince-pie administration" would not outlast the Christmas season,[27] it survived for seventeen years. Inside parliament, the primary concern changed from fears of an over-mighty monarch to the issues of representation, parliamentary reform, and government retrenchment. [59] The British historian Michael Duffy argued that since Pitt committed far more manpower and money to the Caribbean expeditions, especially the one to St. Domingue, than he ever did to Europe in the years 1793–1798, it is proper to view the West Indies as Britain's main theatre of war and Europe as more of a sideshow. When passing a Whig club, the coach came under attack from a group of men who tried to assault Pitt. William Pitt the Younger is an illuminating biography of one of the great iconic figures in British history: the man who in 1784 at the age of twenty-four became (and so remains) the youngest Prime Minister in the history of England. Aside from information specific to William Pitt the Younger's birthday, William Pitt the Younger is the 1162nd most famous English . Everyone expected it to be only a short truce. [citation needed] Pitt helped manage[how?] [32] The act centralised British rule in India by reducing the power of the governors of Bombay and Madras and by increasing that of Governor-General Charles Cornwallis. All factions agreed that the only viable candidate was the King's eldest son, George, Prince of Wales. His mother was Lady Hester Grenville, sister of George Grenville (who headed the government from 1763 to 1765). William Pitt the Younger navigational boxes, (as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom). "Grenville, William Wyndham, Baron Grenville (1759–1834)". ", Mori, Jennifer. He had long suffered from poor health, beginning in childhood, and was plagued with gout and "biliousness", which was worsened by a fondness for port that began when he was advised to consume it to deal with his chronic ill-health. "The Memory of Burke and the Memory of Pitt: English Conservatism Confronts its Past, 1806–1829,", Turner, Simon. [70] Pitt took an extremely repressive approach to the United Irishmen with the Crown executing about 1,500 United Irishmen after the revolt. At the height of the constitutional crisis in 1784, Sheridan had compared Pitt to James I's favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, a clear reference to homosexuality. "[12] But his policy of bolstering up the Turkish Empire was supported neither by the entire Cabinet nor by public opinion, and the government, badly shaken, had to reverse its policy. • Duffy, Michael (2000). The contemporary satire The Rolliad ridiculed him for his youth:[26], Many saw Pitt as a stop-gap appointment until some more senior statesman took on the role. [19], Fox, who became Pitt's lifelong political rival, then joined a coalition with Lord North, with whom he collaborated to bring about the defeat of the Shelburne administration. An electoral defeat for the government was out of the question because Pitt enjoyed the support of King George III. With a population of 16 million, Britain was barely half the size of France, which had a population of 30 million. At just 24 years old, William Pitt The Younger, son of Pitt the Elder, was the youngest Prime Minister in history. [66] A section of the Peep o'Day Boys who had renamed themselves the Loyal Orange Order in September 1795 were fanatically committed to upholding Protestant supremacy in Ireland at "almost any cost". Problems manning the Royal Navy also led to Pitt to introduce the Quota System in 1795 in addition to the existing system of impressment.[49]. Following the bill's failure in the Upper House, George III dismissed the coalition government and finally entrusted the premiership to William Pitt, after having offered the position to him three times previously. [38][39][c], In 1797, Pitt was forced to protect the kingdom's gold reserves by preventing individuals from exchanging banknotes for gold. [91], Pitt was succeeded as Prime Minister by his first cousin William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville, who headed the Ministry of All the Talents, a coalition which included Charles James Fox. William Pitt the Younger was a character in the Blackadder the Third episode Dish and Dishonesty. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. In Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey, which was written in the 1790s, but not published until 1817, one of the characters' remarks that it is not possible for a family to keep secrets in these modern times when spies for the government were lurking everywhere. The debt was about £250,000,000, a staggering amount for those days. [citation needed] In response to the 1797 mutinies, Pitt passed an act making it unlawful to advocate breaking oaths to the Crown. [24], A constitutional crisis arose when the King dismissed the Fox-North coalition government and named Pitt to replace it. [29], Pitt gained great popularity with the public at large as "Honest Billy" who was seen as a refreshing change from the dishonesty, corruption and lack of principles widely associated with both Fox and North. William Pitt the Younger addressing the House of Commons, 1793. He had no social ambitions, and it was rare for him to set out to make a friend. William Pitt the Younger (28 May 1759 – 23 January 1806) was a prominent British Tory statesman of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His administration secure, Pitt could begin to enact his agenda. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Leonard, Dick. 86. "[23] The King was opposed to the bill; when it passed in the House of Commons, he secured its defeat in the House of Lords by threatening to regard anyone who voted for it as his enemy. In August 1792, coincident with the capture of Louis XVI by the French revolutionaries, George III appointed Pitt as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, a position whose incumbent was responsible for the coastal defences of the realm. William Pitt the Younger by William Hague HarperCollins £25, pp651. King George III, unwilling to accept the coalition that would give office to Fox, whom he hated, invited Pitt to form a government; but Pitt declined, knowing he would not have a majority in the House of Commons, and the King had to commission Fox and North. [25], Pitt, at the age of 24, became Great Britain's youngest Prime Minister ever. [35] Pitt's government took the decision to settle what is now Australia and found the penal colony in August 1786. Losing the war and the Thirteen Colonies was a shock to the British system. He was also Chancellor of the Exchequer for all of his time as prime minister. During the Nootka Sound Controversy in 1790, Pitt took advantage of the alliance to force Spain to give up its claim to […] [18], After Lord North's ministry collapsed in 1782, the Whig Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, was appointed prime minister. Many saw the dragging out of the result as being unduly vindictive on the part of Pitt and eventually the examinations were abandoned with Fox declared elected. Biography of William Pitt the Younger. [94], One of Pitt's accomplishments was a rehabilitation of the nation's finances after the American War of Independence. Pitt, born in 1759 was born the second son to William Pitt, the First Earl of Chatham. The reformers, however, were quickly labelled as radicals and associates of the French revolutionaries. [79] Critical to his success in confronting Napoleon was using Britain's superior economic resources. Thinking a less sectarian and more conciliatory approach would have avoided the uprising, Pitt sought an Act of Union that would make Ireland an official part of the United Kingdom and end the "Irish Question". Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Pitt admitted that his situation was without precedent but denied that he was prime minister through backstairs influence. In practical terms it appears that Pitt was essentially asexual throughout his life, perhaps one example of how his rapid development as a politician stunted his growth as a man. [48], An early favourable response to the French Revolution encouraged many in Great Britain to reopen the issue of parliamentary reform, which had been dormant since Pitt's reform bill was defeated in 1785. in Leonard, ed. This policy raised customs revenues by nearly £2 million a year. 28th May 1759, Hayes, Kent, England. [10] While at Cambridge, he befriended the young William Wilberforce, who became a lifelong friend and political ally in Parliament. [6] According to biographer John Ehrman, Pitt inherited brilliance and dynamism from his father's line, and a determined, methodical nature from the Grenvilles. As a younger son, Pitt the Younger only received a small inheritance. A Second Coalition, consisting of Great Britain, Austria, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire, was formed, but it, too, failed to overcome the French. [a] Every year, a third of the budget of £24 million went to pay interest. Although Addington had previously invited him to join the Cabinet, Pitt preferred to join the Opposition, becoming increasingly critical of the government's policies. Pitt wanted to threaten military retaliation. He had no social ambitions, and it was rare for him to set out to make a friend. [47], The general elections of 1790 resulted in a majority for the government, and Pitt continued as prime minister. William Pitt most commonly refers to: . Other repressive measures included the Seditious Meetings Act, which restricted the right of individuals to assemble publicly, and the Combination Acts, which restricted the formation of societies or organisations that favoured political reforms. The author, a British politician, has written a book on William Wilberforce, and this book on William Pitt the Younger. His politics largely aligned to the Tories with many Tories supporting him and his government. [95] He notes that by the end of Pitt's career, conditions were in place that would have allowed a skillful attempt to pass an abolition bill to succeed, partly because of the long campaigning Pitt had encouraged with his friend William Wilberforce. [3][4], William Pitt, second son of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, was born at Hayes Place in the village of Hayes, Kent. Pitt, however, was comfortable with Shelburne, and thus joined his government; he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. [53], In 1793, Pitt decided to take advantage of the Haitian Revolution to seize St. Domingue, the richest French colony in the world, believing this would strike a great blow at France while bringing St. Domingue into the British Empire and ensuring that the slaves in the British West Indies would not be inspired to revolt likewise. When Parliament reassembled in January 1784, the government was at once defeated by 39 votes on a virtual motion of censure, but Pitt refused to resign, and George III was prepared to abdicate rather than again surrender to the Fox–North coalition. Thanks to Pitt's efforts, Britain joined the Third Coalition, an alliance that included Austria, Russia, and Sweden. In 1786 a supplementary act increased the authority of the governor general over his own council. It is so unusual for a super-genius to have the opportunity, interest and special aptitude for politics Pitt had that the example deserves much study. On April 30 Pitt was informed that the King wished him to plan a new ministry. [54] Many of those who owned slave plantations in the British West Indies had been greatly alarmed by the revolution, which began in 1791, and they were strongly pressing Pitt to restore slavery in St. Domingue, lest their own slaves be inspired to seek freedom. William Wilberforce said, "For personal purity, disinterestedness and love of this country, I have never known his equal. That crisis ended in 1784 as a result of the King's shrewdness in outwitting Fox and renewed confidence in the system engendered by the leadership of Pitt. He became First Minister in 1783 at the age of 24, and died in 1806, having been a thoroughly dedicated and professional politician. He had considerable influence in strengthening the office of the prime minister. Influenced by the American and French revolutions, this movement demanded independence and republicanism for Ireland. Pitt clearly did not take the premiership as the King’s tool, for his first step was to try, on his own terms, to include Fox and his friends in the new ministry. In 1798, he passed the Defence of the Realm act, which further restricted civil liberties. This interview marked the beginning of the long political duel between Pitt and Fox and also rapidly brought to an end Shelburne’s ministry, since Fox now surprisingly allied himself with Lord North, a politician who had always been willing to work in accordance with the King’s wishes, and defeated Shelburne. [56] The fact that the British had came to restore slavery in St. Domingue inspired ferocious resistance from the Haitians, who had no desire to be forced into chains again. 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Fox stated the bill was necessary to save the company of young men, and the page. Election was fought between candidates clearly representing either Pitt or Fox and.... At 24 ) and longest-serving British prime minister, Lord North would have been.., who had by then been raised to the tax system in to! 1788 he made alliances with Prussia and Holland in 1788 he made alliances Prussia... Information from Encyclopaedia Britannica with Tom Steele, Secretary to the premiership on May... Raymond Deseze, Steven Tordjman and Carlos Alfredo Lara Watson the national debt soared to £679 million Britain. Act increased the authority of the Exchequer from 1782–1783, 1783–1801 and 1804–1806 of. Recourse to repressive legislation in order to strain the uneasy Fox-North coalition, included! Colonial interests drove the King recommended measures to prevent bribery and to make the more...

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