George III

(George III of England)


George III is most well known as the King of Britain during the American Revolutionary War. He was the monarch to whom the Declaration of Independence was addressed, complete with a long list of grievances. The loss of the colonies to Britain, was in fact, very likely preventable, and was due directly to his unfortunate pig-headedness and a lack of understanding of how strongly British citizens in both the Americas and in England were dedicated to the idea of rule by Parliament instead of by the arbitrary whims of a monarch.

The Hanoverians had been appointed as kings of England by an act of Parliament over fifty years before George III ascended to the throne. Neither George's father nor Grandfather had taken an active role in government, and had permitted Parliament to do more or less as it pleased. Yet these precedents were not set by law, and there was not a legal prohibition against the English king actually governing his own kingdom. One of George III's first acts as king was therefore to over-rule the advice of his Secretary of War, one William Pitt. This so infuriated Pitt that he resigned his post in mid-war.

George III eventually reconciled with Pitt, and a few years later allowed him to organize the government as he pleased, but when Pitt died, George resumed his policies of interference. In particular he insisted on his right to tax the colonies as he pleased in order to pay off the war debt. Certainly an acceptable compromise might have been possible, but George did not understand the nature of the colonist's outrage, and pursued his policies of "taxation without representation". When he did declare war on the colonies he needed to use Hessian (German) soldiers because many British soldiers did not want to fight the colonists. The loss of the colonies was a disaster for George III, and brought an abrupt end to his attempt to re-establish the power of the monarchy outside of the limited role that Parliament provided for it.

For most of the rest of his reign he did not overstep his role. After William Pitt the Elder died, he developed a good working relationship with William Pitt the Younger, who served as Prime minister immediately after the Revolutionary War, and then again during the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately the King began to suffer episodes of mental illness in 1788, and though at first he recovered, later attacks became more serious and by 1810 he was incapacitated permanently. He died in 1820.

Key events during the life of George III of Great Britain:

George III is born.
Ascended to the throne in the midst of the seven years war.
William Pitt the Elder resigns from Cabinet.
Stamp Act, a tax on documents, was opposed by the colonists.
Pitt repeals Stamp act.
Boston Tea Party.
Break out of Revolutionary War.
Surrender of Britain at Yorktown.
First Administration of Pitt the Younger.
First extended episode of mental illness.
Break out of French Revolutionary Wars.
Act of Union—Ireland annexed to Great Britain.
Break out of Napoleonic Wars.
Second Administration of Pitt the Younger.
Death of Pitt the Younger.
George becomes permanently incapacitated.
Death of George III

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
King George and the Colonies  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans
England and her Colonies  in  The Hanoverians  by  C. J. B. Gaskoin
The Beginning of the U.S  in  Story of the Great Republic  by  H. A. Guerber
George III. and the American Revolution  in  The Story of England  by  Samuel B. Harding
George III.A Greater Conqueror than Kings  in  Scotland's Story  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall

Image Links

Queen Charlotte
 in The Hanoverians

King George III
 in The Hanoverians

The Children of George III
 in The Hanoverians

Farmer George The King rewarding an industrious haymaker near Weymouth
 in The Hanoverians

George III of England
 in Builders of Our Country: Book I

Short Biography
William Pitt Statesman who masterminded the rise of the British Empire during the critical 18th century.
William Pitt Jr. Son of the Earl of Chatham, served between American Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.
Charles James Fox