Walpole and the Whig Supremacy

By H. T. Dickinson | Go to book overview

9 Walpole in Power (1721-42)

Walpole dominated the Government and the political scene for more than twenty years. This unparalleled achievement was due to several factors which have already been analysed in detail. Royal favour made him the leading minister in the Government. Crown patronage gave him a solid base in both Houses of Parliament, and he won over many independent backbenchers by the reasonableness of his financial and foreign policies and by the persuasiveness of his arguments. Moreover, his skill in managing the Commons and in dividing his opponents extricated him from a number of situations where he faced defeat and the loss of power. Nonetheless, his success was not easily gained and he could never be assured of victory. His position could be threatened on several fronts. He could lose favour at Court, he could face a revolt by his cabinet colleagues, his policies and decisions could be rejected by the independent backbenchers, or the Opposition spokesmen could turn a majority of the Commons or the electorate against him. Walpole was rarely entirely safe from all these challenges, and his power fluctuated according to the strength and nature of the threat to his authority. His remarkable political talents enabled him to beat off these attacks when they came from only one or two directions. He finally fell from power when he was opposed on all fronts. He lost influence at Court and in the cabinet. The independent backbenchers became disenchanted with his conduct of the War of the Austrian Succession and the Opposition at last persuaded more of the electorate and a majority of the Commons to vote against him.

Walpole had not come to power in 1721 on a great wave

-160-

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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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