William Pitt

William Pitt

British statesman
Date of Birth: 12.11.1708
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of William Pitt the Younger
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Political Career
  4. Prime Ministership
  5. The French Revolution and Later Years

Biography of William Pitt the Younger

William Pitt the Younger, the second son of William Pitt, was a British statesman (1759—1806). He served as the Prime Minister of Great Britain for almost 20 years, becoming the youngest person to hold the position at the age of 24.

Early Life and Education

Pitt attended Cambridge University, where he excelled academically. After completing his studies, he became a lawyer in London in 1780. He entered the House of Commons in 1781 and quickly gained recognition for his eloquent speeches in support of economic reform.

Political Career

Pitt followed in his father's footsteps and became a member of the Whig party, led by Lord Shelburne (Lansdowne). He advocated for parliamentary reform, Catholic emancipation, and freedom of the press. He also studied Adam Smith's book, "The Wealth of Nations," and became a follower of Smith's economic theories. Unlike his father, Pitt did not harbor a deep-rooted hatred towards France and maintained friendly relations with the country, which caused criticism from some who accused him of betraying his father's memory.

Prime Ministership

Pitt formed his own cabinet in December 1783 after the failed coalition between Fox and North. His popularity was based on public opinion rather than the support of King George III, who did not favor him. Although his electoral reform plans did not succeed, Pitt was able to address some of the most glaring flaws of the old order during his time in office. His government was the first to abandon the practice of bribery. He also passed several acts, such as the India Act of 1784, which brought the management of India under direct government control, and the 1794 act that granted full freedom of the press in England.

The French Revolution and Later Years

Pitt initially sympathized with the events of the French Revolution but declared war on France after it invaded Belgium. He led the second coalition against France in 1799. The war and the resulting unrest in England led to the implementation of reactionary measures, including the suspension of Habeas Corpus and restrictions on public meetings and the press. Pitt also dealt with the Irish uprising of 1798 with extreme severity, ultimately failing to achieve free trade between England and Ireland.

In 1801, King George III refused to support Pitt's proposed bill for Catholic emancipation, leading Pitt to resign. He returned to power in 1804 with the goal of combating Napoleon, but his health deteriorated rapidly. Pitt died at the age of 46, shortly after the devastating Battle of Austerlitz. The Parliament paid off his debts with public funds, demonstrating their respect for his service.