Walpole and the Whig Supremacy

By H. T. Dickinson | Go to book overview

2 A Whig Apprenticeship (1701-14)

When Walpole entered Parliament in 1701 the Whigs were on the defensive, the backbench Tory majority was loud in its denunciation of the political corruption and the dangerous foreign policy for which they held the Whigs responsible, and the monarch was trying desperately to govern without being the prisoner of either party. This situation was to be repeated many times over the next fourteen years until the Hanoverian succession saw the final defeat of the Tory party and the dependence of the new King on Whig support. At the beginning of Walpole's career, however, and particularly after the accession of Queen Anne in 1702, it appeared more likely that the Tories would triumph and dominate the ministry. In such a confused and dangerous situation, an ambitious young man, and one new to Parliament like Walpole, might have been expected to tread warily, yet he showed no hesitation before deciding to throw in his lot with the confirmed Whigs. He had no desire to adjust his political principles to further his immediate ambition. His decision undoubtedly reduced his chances of rising quickly to high office, but his steadfast loyalty to the Whig cause over the next fourteen years put him in a very strong position to benefit from the great opportunities created for the Whigs by the Hanoverian succession.

Walpole quickly made a name for himself defending the Whig cause against the rampant Tory majority. The short-lived parliament of 1701 was dominated by the succession problem and by the Tory attacks on the policies of William III and of his recently dismissed Whig ministers. With the death in 1700 of Princess Anne's sole surviving child, the Duke of Gloucester,

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Walpole and the Whig Supremacy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Introduction to the Series 5
  • Contents 7
  • Plates 8
  • Preface 9
  • I - Walpole and the Whigs 11
  • 2 - A Whig Apprenticeship (1701-14) 20
  • 3 - The Hanoverian Succession 40
  • 4 - Walpole Consolidates His Power 56
  • 5 - Political Management 66
  • 6 - Financial and Commercial Policies 93
  • 7 - Foreign Policy 113
  • 8 - Walpole and His Critics 140
  • 9 - Walpole in Power (1721-42) 160
  • 10 - The Last Years (1742-5) 188
  • Bibliography 193
  • Index 197
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