Why did Pitt dominate politics 1783-93?

Essay by Fee_SpellmanA-, April 2004

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William Pitt became Prime Minister in 1783 at just 24 years old. He came to power soon after the American War of Independence (1776-1783). Britain's status as a superpower had been undermined by this loss, and she was now isolated in Europe. The war had left Britain with huge national debt, and the dramatic fall in exports to America meant that her finances were also in an awful state. It was in this climate of political instability that Pitt became Prime Minister of Britain. He faced huge opposition in the House of Commons at the start of his rule. His was nicknamed the 'Mince Pie Administration' because people thought that it would be over by Christmas. Far from this, he went on to rule Britain for over ten years. It has since been keenly debated whether Pitt in fact dominated politics during this reign.

The main opposition to Pitt was Fox (leader of the Whigs).

The Whig Party had previously existed as a group of families competing for power but their common concern for issues such as the excessive power of the monarchy united them. North had been the Tory Prime Minister when Britain lost the American War of Independence. The King had to remove North from office in order to please the public. The Whigs saw their chance to get into power but the King would not appoint Fox due to his anti-monarchical beliefs. Pitt described himself as an independent Whig but later became a Tory. He was wholly unconnected to the immensely unpopular North administration and had traditional values (including a belief in the monarchy). It was under these circumstances that he was appointed as Prime Minister. A lack of effective opposition therefore contributed to the length of Pitt's rule, some would argue more so than...