Pitt, William


Pitt, William
(1759–1806)
   Prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1783 to 1801, and again from 1804 to 1806, Pitt was the fourth child of William Pitt, later first earl of Chatham, who had distinguished himself as prime minister during the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763). The younger Pitt studied at Cambridge before first practicing law and then entering Parliament at the age of 21 in January 1781. His maiden speech demonstrated Pitt’s mastery of the language and his skill as a debater - talents he would go on to use in opposing the government’s policy of war against the United States, and in advocating economic reforms to reduce government spending and reduce the king’s powers of patronage. He also advocated parliamentary reform by denouncing the system of rotten boroughs and calling for a redistribution of constituencies inequitably represented in the House of Commons.
   When Lord Shelburne became prime minister in July 1782, Pitt was made chancellor of the exchequer, and thereafter became a staunch political opponent of the prominent Whig politician, Charles James Fox. In December 1783, Pitt himself became prime minister, so enabling him to institute a number of successful policies for reducing the massive national debt, specifically the introduction of his Sinking Fund and a range of innovative taxation schemes. When he failed to achieve Parliamentary reform in 1785, however, he thereafter ceased to pursue that object. As a war leader in the 1790s, Pitt lacked the strategic vision necessary to effectively oppose revolutionary France. Nevertheless, he was instrumental, together with his foreign secretary, Lord Grenville, in consolidating the First Coalition (1792–1797), although he confined his material contribution to the war effort to naval activity and small-scale military operations on the Continent. During the Second Coalition (1798–1801), he again dissipated British resources, although his provision of substantial financial payments to Austria, Russia, and various other continental allies played an important role in maintaining resistance against Revolutionary France. Pitt resigned from office in 1801 over differences with George III on the issue of Catholic Emancipation, a measure that the king refused to support on the grounds that it would violate his coronation oath. Pitt initially supported Henry Addington, his successor in office, as well as the Peace of Amiens with France, but when war resumed in May 1803, he gradually came to oppose government policy and returned to office for his second ministry a year later. Pitt was instrumental in raising the Third Coalition - Britain, Russia, Austria, and Sweden - against France, personally conceiving, in January 1805, detailed plans for the reconstruction of postwar Europe. With the decisive triumph of the French at Austerlitz in December and the refusal of Prussia to join the Allies, however, Pitt’s fragile health finally gave out, and he died from a combination of overwork and the cumulative effect of years of heavy drinking.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Duffy, Michael. The Younger Pitt. New York: Longman, 2000;
    Ehrman, John. The Younger Pitt: The Consuming Struggle. London: Constable, 1996;
    Ehrman, John. The Younger Pitt. The Reluctant Transition. London: Constable, 1986;
    Ehrman, John. The Younger Pitt: The Years of Acclaim. New York: Dutton, 1969;
    Hague, William. William Pitt the Younger. London: HarperCollins, 2004.
   GREGORY FREMONT-BARNES

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pitt,William — I. Pitt1 (pĭt), William. First Earl of Chatham. Known as “Pitt the Elder.” 1708 1778. British political leader and orator who directed his country s military effort during the Seven Years War (1756 1763).   II. Pitt2 (pĭt), William. Second Earl… …   Universalium

  • Pitt, William — (1708 78) Conde de Chatham, llamado Pitt el Viejo o el Primer Pitt. Político inglés. Árbitro de la política de su país durante buena parte de la segunda mitad del s. XVIII, supo enfrentar a Francia con Prusia en la Guerra de los Siete Años, lo… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • PITT, WILLIAM —    1) See CHATHAM, WILLIAM PITT.    2) English statesman, second son of Lord Chatham, born near Bromley, Kent, grew up a delicate child in a highly charged political atmosphere, and studied with such diligence under the direction of his father… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Pitt, William — (1759 1806)    Son of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham; born at Hayes, England. Educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Entered Parliament, 1781, becoming prime minister in 1783. In consequence of French aggressions, formed in 1793 a great coalition… …   The makers of Canada

  • Pitt, William, the Younger — (1759–1806) British statesman and prime minister (1783–1801, 1804–06). The son of William Pitt, he entered Parliament in 1781 and served as chancellor of the Exchequer (1782–83). He was appointed prime minister in 1783 and undertook reforms that… …   Universalium

  • Pitt, William, the Elder — later 1st earl of Chatham born Nov. 15, 1708, London, Eng. died May 11, 1778, Hayes, Kent British statesman and orator, twice virtual prime minister (1756–61, 1766–68). He entered Parliament in 1735 and provoked controversy with his maiden speech …   Universalium

  • Pitt, William, el Joven — (28 may. 1759, Hayes, Kent, Inglaterra–23 ene. 1806, Londres). Estadista y primer ministro británico (1783–1801, 1804–06). Hijo de William Pitt, ingresó al parlamento en 1781 y fue canciller del Exchequer (ministro de hacienda) (1782–83). Fue… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Pitt, William, el Viejo — post. 1er conde de Chatham (15 nov. 1708, Londres, Inglaterra–11 may. 1778, Hayes, Kent). Estadista y orador británico, dos veces primer ministro de hecho (1756–61, 1766–68). Ingresó al parlamento en 1735 y provocó controversia con su primer… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • William Pitt, der Jüngere — William Pitt der Jüngere auf einem Thomas Gainsborough zugeschriebenen Gemälde William Pitt der Jüngere (* 28. Mai 1759 in Hayes, Kent; † 23. Januar 1806 in Putney bei London) war zweimal Premierminister von …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • William Pitt der Jüngere — auf einem Thomas Gainsborough zugeschriebenen Gemälde William Pitt der Jüngere (* 28. Mai 1759 in Hayes, Kent; † 23. Januar 1806 in Putney bei London) war zweimal Premierminister von Großbritannien …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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