18TH CENTURY BRITISH POLITICS
In the 18th century, British politics was very different to what it is today. The system has changed a lot of times in the past 200 years, therefore the system used in the 18th century is very alien and unusual compared to today’s system.
In 1783-4, William Pitt the Younger was appointed the Prime Minister, after winning a general election in March 1784. This restored government stability, and represents a victory for the King and a defeat for his Whig opponents, led by Charles James Fox. The Whigs were a political party in England, and their main rivals were the Tories. The Whigs got Queen Anne to make Prince George of Hanover the next king of Britain. George became very dependent on the Whigs, who included Robert Walpole, who was made Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1715. Robert Walpole later became the first ever Prime Minister, and was given 10 Downing Street by George. In 1760, George III became the King of England and attempted to make more direct use of the powers of the monarchy. As a result, there was frequent government instability in the 1760s, as George clashed with the Whig ministers. 20 years later, disaster struck. There was a government crisis during the later stages of the American war, and George’s position was seriously threatened. Eventually, the Treaty of Versailles confirms the independence of the 13 American colonies, and Britain is humiliated. This then leads to Pitt becoming PM.
Under Pitt’s government, where he was Prime Minister from 1783 to 1801, he turned a government financial deficit of about £12 million in the early 1780s to a surplus of about £5 million 10 years later.
Due to an Act of Parliament from 1430, constituencies (voting districts) were divided into 2 groups: counties and boroughs. Only males who owned property worth 40 shillings were allowed to vote in county constituencies and borough voting qualifications varied. Although Parliament stipulated who should vote in county constituencies,...