William Pitt the Younger

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William Pitt the Younger

Who?
William Pitt was born at Hayes, Kent on 28th May 1759.
William Pitt died on 16th January, 1806. He suffered from poor health and was educated at home. His father, William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, was the former M.P. for Old Sarum and one of the most important politicians of the period. The Earl of Chatham was determined that his son would eventually become a member of the House of Commons and at an early age William was given lessons on how to become an effective orator. Died in debt of £40,000.

Background
William grew up with a strong interest in politics and spent much of his spare time watching debates in parliament. On 7th April 1778 he was present when his father collapsed while making a speech in the House of Lords and helped to carry his dying father from the chamber. In 1781 Sir James Lowther arranged for William Pitt to become the M.P. for Appleby. He made his first speech in the House of Commons on 26th February, 1781. William Pitt had been well trained and afterwards, Lord North, the prime minister, described it as the "best speech" that he had ever heard.

Why
Soon after entering the Commons, William Pitt came under the influence of Charles Fox, Britain's leading Whig politician. Pitt joined Fox in his campaign for peace with the American colonies. On 12th June he made a speech where Pitt insisted that this was an "unjust war" and urged Lord North's government to bring it to an end. Pitt also took an interest in the way that Britain elected Members of Parliament. He was especially critical of the way that the monarchy used the system to influence those in Parliament. Pitt argued that parliamentary reform was necessary for the preservation of liberty

Change
The new prime minister, Lord Sherburne appointed the twenty-three year old Pitt as his Chancellor of the Exchequer. On the 31st March, 1783, Pitt resigned. Now out of power, Pitt turned his attention once...
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