British Friends of the American Revolution

By Jerome R. Reich | Go to book overview
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should be conducted by political parties, "a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavors the national interest upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed." 40 However, he warned that clandestine royal influence over the House of Commons must be eliminated if this party system were to operate successfully. Though indicating his support for granting Wilkes his seat (see chapter 4), Burke advised against shortening the duration of Parliaments (from seven to three years) and, surprisingly, excluding placemen from the House of Commons. He implied that the overthrow of the North ministry and the return of the Rockinghamites to power would solve all the nation's problems. As Burke summarized,

If the reader believes that there really exists . . . a Faction ruling by the
private inclinations of a Court [note, not the king], . . . and that this Faction,
whilst it pursues a scheme for undermining all the foundations of our free
dom, weakens . . . all the powers of executory Government, . . . he will be
lieve also, that nothing but a firm combination of public men against this
body . . . can possibly get the better of it. 41

As noted, Burke's pamphlet failed in its immediate object: the North administration remained firmly in power. In the next chapter, we shall meet two people who basically agreed with Burke's American policy but who were outraged by Burke's refusal to support more basic parliamentary reform.

R. C. Simmons and P. D.G. Thomas, eds., Proceedings and Debates of the British Parliaments Respecting North America, 1754-1783 (hereafter referred to as Parliament Debates), I, p. 500.
As quoted in John Braeman, The Road to Independence, p. 124.
Simmons and Thomas, Parliament Debates, II, pp. 84-91.
Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams, II, p. 191.
Thomas W. Copeland et al., The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, I, pp. 232- 233. Hereafter referred to as Burke Correspondence.
Simmons and Thomas, Parliament Debates, II, p. iii.
Copeland et al., Burke Correspondence, I, p. 243.
As quoted in Fred Junkin Hinkhouse, The Preliminaries of the American Revolution as Seen in the English Press, 1763-1775, pp. 69-70.
John Almon, ed., Anecdotes of the Life of the Right Honorable William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, III, p.262. Hereafter referred to as Pitt Anecdotes.


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