The House of Lords
We have not, of late, been doing justice to the "friends" of America in the House of Lords. Chatham and Richmond we already know. Perhaps some background material on an already familiar name, Rockingham, will also prove enlightening. Charles Watson Wentworth, marquis of Rockingham, was born in 1730. At fifteen, he upset his family by running away to join the duke of Cumberland in his pursuit of the Young Pretender. Soon he returned to less strenuous pursuits, attended Cambridge, and made the obligatory grand tour of the Continent. Upon the death of his father in 1750, he assumed the title, served as Lord of the Bedchamber to both George II and George III, and supervised his extensive estate -- his favorite activity. Like other country gentlemen, he dabbled in Whig politics but held no office until 1765 when, in the midst of a political vacuum, the duke of Cumberland's influence secured him the post of first minister. As noted in chapter 3, Rockingham's administration was brief but notable. For the next sixteen years ( 1766-1782), his signal accomplishment was to keep an opposition alive to the political juggernaut that kept Lord North in office for the last twelve of those years. Rockingham was certainly not a well man, a brilliant man, nor an energetic one ( Burke had to supply these latter two qualities), but his imperturbability and facility for retaining the loyalty of disparate individuals enabled him to keep Whig principles alive and, eventually, if only briefly, to regain political power. As Burke later wrote at the base of Rockingham's mausoleum, he
far exceeded all other statesmen in the art of drawing together without the seduction of self-interest, the concurrence and cooperation of various dispositions and abilities of men, who he assimilated to his character and associated in his labours. 1
Rockingham spoke infrequently and usually briefly, leaving the oratory
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: British Friends of the American Revolution. Contributors: Jerome R. Reich - Author. Publisher: M.E Sharpe. Place of publication: Armonk, NY. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 74.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.