William Pitt Jr.

(William Pitt the Younger)


William Pitt the Younger was the son of the elder William Pitt, Lord of Chatham, who played such an important role in the foundation of Britain's empire. Soon after the death of his father, he obtained a position in parliament, and due largely to the support and friendship of King George III, obtained a high position in government at an early age. He had inherited a good amount of influence and political clout from his father, and showed considerable talent as a debater and negotiator. When the coalition government formed during the American Revolutionary War collapsed after the British defeat at Yorktown, Pitt, at the age of only 24 was selected by King George to form a new government. Although few believed at first that his ministry would succeed, it lasted over seventeen years.

William Pitt's politics were difficult to categorize since he did not govern along strict party lines, and several of the reforms that he backed were defeated either in the house of Commons or the house of Lords. The priorities of his government changed dramatically in the early 1790's when the French Revolutionary government became radicalized, and actively sought to inspire a rebellion in England to overthrow the government. Some Whigs who at first had supported the revolution were discredited, and under Pitt's leadership, Parliament united behind Britain's War effort. His government remained active until 1801 when he resigned due to a serious disagreement with George III over how to handle the problems of rebellion in Ireland.

For three Years Pitt stayed largely out of government, but was recalled in 1804 when the peace with France broke down, and Britain was called upon to take up arms against Napoleon. In spite of his relative youth however, Pitt's health was poor and he died only a few years later, shortly after the disastrous Battle of Austerlitz. He was stunned and heart-broken at the grievous loss and is quoted as saying "Roll up that map; it will not be wanted these ten years." Pitt never married and died at the age of 45 from a liver ailment, likely due to excessive drink.

Key events during the life of William Pitt the Younger:

Birth of William Pitt the younger
Death of William Pitt the elder
Election to Parliament
First Prime Ministry began after the defeat of the British at Yorktown.
Sinking fund established to pay off war debt.
Regency crisis due to mental illness of King George III.
French Revolution becomes radicalized and threatens Britain.
Britain declares War on France.
Rebellion in Ireland.
Resigns Prime Minister position after disagreement with the king over the Irish problem.
Recalled to lead the government after peace with France collapses.
Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and disastrous loss at the Battle of Austerlitz.
Death of William Pitt from liver disease.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Pitt in Peace  in  The Hanoverians  by  C. J. B. Gaskoin

Image Links

William Pitt (the Younger)
 in The Hanoverians

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