Topic 4





George Grenville (1712-1770)


bulletCook, chap. 4
bullet Albany Plan of Union, 1754
bullet Otis, Speech on Writs of Assistance, 1761
bulletHenry Ellis Plan, 1763
bullet Proclamation of 1763
bullet Washington to Crawford, 1767

Reading Notes & Questions

Other Sources & Links

OVERVIEW: With the growth of the Empire by mid-century, some people in England and the colonies realized it was times to reform imperial structures. In fact, the success of British forces in the French and Indian War in 1759 made the need for reform even greater. Chief among their concerns were:
bullet the need to deal with vast new territories won from France
bullet the crushing debt incurred by decades of imperial wars
bullet the anomalies of colonial politics and imperial institutions

There were some wise voices urging new structures of governance before taking measures to meet the need for more revenue and more effective enforcement of imperial regulations. Instead, political conflicts and uninspired leadership in London in the 1760s worked against a new vision for the Empire. As Don Cook puts it, a long fuse was lit at the beginning of that decade. George Grenville's ill-fated ministry is a fitting symbol of the search for a new policy gone wrong.


Fateful Decision to take Canada: For policy it meant an extension of imperial authority to meet new responsibilities. The mercantile system subjected seaboard merchants to regulations, because of the new situation
bulletTwo-Fold Problem
bulletTo secure vast territory, especially to deal with the Indian problem
bulletTo pay for defense of the Empire

Shaping a Policy [Overview of the emergence of a new policy]

bulletGrowing view in England for reform of administration, for rationalization of imperial institutions. With the French threat eliminated it seemed the time for reform, to tighten imperial administration. Some royal governors supported these views. And Benjamin Franklin believed the imperial structure should be rationalized. 
bullet Franklin's Albany Plan of Union
bullet Governor Sir Francis Bernard's plan was one example of ideas for reorganizing the Empire at the end of the war.
bulletThroughout the 18th century there had been an intention and a partial movement towards centralizing administration. After the war the extension of the trade laws was part of that movement
bulletFirst Measures: Indicators of a new policy direction
bulletProclamation of 1763 limited colonial expansion west of the Allegheny Mountains
bullet Sugar Act in 1764 reduced the duty set by the Molasses Act of 1733 in the hope of reducing smuggling.
bullet Sugar Act  [document]
bullet Currency Act
bulletThe Currency Act [document]
bulletBetter enforcement by giving the Royal Navy more authority and by reforming and extending vice-admiralty courts. In 1767 four vice admiralty courts were established and an American Board of Commissioners sat in Boston.
bulletIn the 1760s the executive departments shook off their inertia and the secretary of state began to play a greater part, taking some of the initiative for colonial affairs from the Board of Trade.
bulletAt the same time Parliament began to declare the right to tax the colonies. Thus the executive and legislature began to act in combination more effectively than ever before to strengthen the ties between colonies and England in three ways:
bulletExtending trade laws
bulletBetter enforcement
bulletShifting some of the tax burden for common expenses to the colonies
 The Post-War Colonial Situation
bulletEconomics: the prosperity of the war years caused by injection of British currency through the requisition system. Colonial merchants like Hancock made fortunes. In the 1760s there was economic retraction and recession.
bulletMerchants had adjusted to dealing with the mercantile regulations were in no mood for more of them.
bulletGrowth in debts and liabilities of merchants and planters to British creditors
bulletInter-colonial experience of common action against common danger. The Albany Plan of Union was an indication of thinking bred by that experience.
bulletEnlargement of the authority of colonial legislatures; they were strengthened in consciousness of their rights
The Post-War Situation in London: Structure of politics was stacked against an enlightened and rationalized policy.
bulletThe Crown: Still a powerful political force, although not independent of Parliament. Since 1688 it was clear what the crown could not do but less clear what it could do. This vagueness made for a fluid power which could be cultivated by a skillful and strong personality. But the Hanoverian dynasty did not breed such leaders
bulletGeorge II had blustered about Parliament but never led it effectively. He was rather effectively controlled by parliamentary leaders. During his reign (1727-1760) the top minister in Parliament ran the government. The political system developed by Sir Robert Walpole under George I continued; Walpole remained in power until 1742.
bulletAfter Walpole the Whigs, torn by rival factions, were held together by the patronage of the Duke of Newcastle
bulletThe broad based ministry had Henry Pelham (1694-1754) as Prime Minister and William Pitt among others. After Pelham's death his brother, the Duke of Newcastle, led the ministry.
bullet Parliament: Decade of Political Instability, 1760-1770
bulletGeorge III, the new king, was determined to run the government differently. It was the personality of George II that allowed parliamentary leaders to run the government, not constitutional principle. But neither the king's personality nor intelligence matched his determination. As a child he was slow to learn and and lethargic. The main influence on him in adolescence was Lord Bute, a Scots nobleman who was critical of the great Whig leaders who had run the government for so long. Instead of cultivating the wiles of the politician, George wanted to please his mother and Bute by   transcend factions and to bring a new virtue to politics. The result was a disastrous decade of wobbling, with ministries coming and going. The Whigs fragmented but remained a force and for the first time since 1714 Tory influence came into government with the King's Friends.
bulletParliament & "the King's Friends":  When George III became king Newcastle's coalition ministry was still pursuing the Seven Years War. In 1757 Pitt had been given the position of Secretary of State to centralize and administer the war policy and became the real leader of the ministry as he managed the war brilliantly. But George, favoring Bute, was eager to be rid of the great Whig leaders who had been in power for so long. He hated Newcastle and Pitt.
bulletThe First Parliament of George III: 1761-1768
bulletThe Bute Ministry, 1761-1763: In 1761 the King made Bute his Prime Minister and George Grenville (relative of Pitt by marriage)  the Secretary of State. When Pitt's desire to declare war on Spain was rejected, he resigned in a huff to the great relief of the King. It appeared that a new generation of "King's Friends was easing out the Whig old guard. Still, they managed to undermine Bute's position so seriously that by 1763 he told the King he wanted to leave the government to settle his nerves.
bulletThe George Grenville Ministry, 1763-April, 1765
bulletThe Marquis of Rockingham Ministry, April, 1765-July, 66
bulletThe Earl of Chatham (William Pitt) Ministry, Aug.,1766-Dec.,1767
bulletThe Duke of Grafton Ministry, Dec. 1767-January, 1770. Charles Townshend was Chancellor of the Exchequer until his death in 1767. Chatham was Lord Privy Seal; Lord Hillsborough became the first Colonial Secretary.
bulletThe Second Parliament of George III: May, 1768-June 1774
bulletGrafton Ministry continues to January, 1770
bulletThe Lord North Ministry, January, 1770-March, 1782. With Lord North, the King's favorite as First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, there was a full Tory ministry.
bulletWilkes & Liberty, 1763 - 1774: Prism for the tensions of the decade.
bullet John Wilkes & The North Briton
bulletRunning with the Fast Set
bullet Sir Francis Dashwood and the Hell Fire Club
bullet The North Briton #45 (April 23, 1763) & General Warrants
bulletWilkes' flight to France; expelled from Commons in absentia; reelection thrown out. Elected twice more and refused seat. Finally Colonel Luttrell runs against him, loses and yet is declared winner.  London in uproar but Wilkes wanted peace and security. He backed down
bulletLater, Lord Mayor of London and MP again.
bulletWilkes' return and sentence to prison for North Briton #45 and pornography charges for Essay on Woman