During his 24-year reign, William Pitt the Younger became the UK’s youngest Prime Minister. He is most recognized for saving England. Pitt, the son of the Earl of Chatham, was ill since boyhood. Despite his illness, he was a clever child who graduated from Cambridge as a teenager. He was then elected to Parliament at the age of 21 and became Chancellor of the Exchequer. When George III requested him to form a cabinet after the conflict between George III and Charles Fox, Pitt became the UK’s youngest Prime Minister. His government attempted to rebuild the public finances after the American War of Independence and levied new taxes to raise funds. Pitt had long advocated for the union of England and Ireland, and after France declared war on Britain, he enacted the Act of Union. In 1801 he was compelled to retire due to royal opposition to his efforts to repeal Catholic restrictions in Ireland. With Napoleon threatening invasion, the king was forced to ask Pitt to establish a cabinet in 1804. The fall of the Third Coalition against France later strained Pitt’s already poor health, leading to his death.
Early Childhood of William Pitt the Younger
In 1759, William Pitt the Younger was born in Hayes Place, Hayes in the village of Hayes in Kent, England.
He was the family’s second son and both his parents were politicians. His mother was George Grenville’s sister.
Pitts was first educated at home by the Reverend Edward Wilson, and he soon learned Latin and Greek.
In 1773, he entered Pembroke College, Cambridge, to study mathematics, chemistry, and history.
In 1776, Pitt elected to graduate without tests, a rare privilege reserved for noblemen’s sons.
Pitt the Younger inherited a tiny sum after his father died in 1778. In the summer of 1780, he was summoned to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn.
A Career of William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt, aged 21, unsuccessfully sought a parliamentary seat in Appleby, Cumbria, in 1780. Despite early offers of small office positions, he preferred to maintain his political independence and wait for more serious roles.
Lord Shelburne named him Chancellor of the Exchequer in July 1782. Following Lord Shelburne’s resignation, Pitt was offered the position of Prime Minister, which he declined, knowing he would not be able to obtain Commons support.
On April 2, 1783, Charles James Fox and Lord North formed a coalition government led by William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland. Pitt lost his job as Chancellor and joined the Opposition. The Fox-North coalition government collapsed in December 1783 over Edmund Burke’s East India Company reform measure. The bill was opposed by King George III. The bill passed the Commons, but the King intervened and ensured its defeat in the Lords. Following the Upper House defeat, the King fired the Fox-North and appointed William Pitt Prime Minister.
At 24, Pitt became Britain’s youngest Prime Minister in December 1783, serving as First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Despite early public skepticism, Pitt’s ministry lasted 17 years.
He won the 1784 general elections with the King’s and Lords’ support. So Pitt set out to reduce the national debt and fight smuggling.
The sinking fund for the national debt was created in 1786, along with other key financial and administrative reforms. Pitt reformed both Indian and Canadian colonial administrations.
Pitt’s greatest triumphs were from 1784 to 1789, until the French Revolution posed new obstacles.
France waged war on England in 1793, and Pitt’s career was dominated by winning the war against France.
Pitt prioritized parliamentary unification of Ireland and England, which he achieved with the Act of Union 1800. However, Pitt’s attempt to eliminate Roman Catholic restrictions failed due to the King’s strong opposition. In March 1801, he resigned.
In 1804, Pitt was summoned to office by King George III to lead England in the fight against Napoleon Bonaparte. So Pitt returned to the PM’s office and seized over.
Pitt established an alliance with Russia, Austria, and Sweden against France, but his health had deteriorated, and the news of England’s allies’ defeat at Austerlitz destroyed Pitt.
Grandiose of William Pitt the Younger
Pitt’s greatest notable accomplishment was reviving the country’s economy following the American Revolution. He managed to reduce the national debt and improved the tax structure to increase revenue.
Personal Legacy of William Pitt the Younger
He had gout and gastrointestinal issues from a young age. He never married and had no children.
Pitt died on January 23, 1806 at Bowling Green House on Putney Heath, London, England. John died in Westminster Abbey.
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth of William Pitt the Younger is unknown.