British Friends of the American Revolution

By Jerome R. Reich | Go to book overview

8
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

-74-

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British Friends of the American Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • 1 - The Stage and the Players 3
  • Notes 6
  • 2 - Governor Pownall, Dean Tucker, and Major John Cartwright: Practical Idealists or Wishful Thinkers? 7
  • Notes 19
  • 3 - Pitt, Burke, and American Policy, 1763-1770 21
  • Notes 31
  • 4 - "Birds of a Feather": John Wilkes and John Horne Tooke 33
  • Notes 39
  • 5 - The "Honest Whigs" 40
  • Notes 48
  • 6 - The Coercive Acts and Their Opponents: a Study in Futility 50
  • Notes 57
  • 7 - A Dire Prediction 59
  • Notes 72
  • 8 - The House of Lords 74
  • Notes 87
  • 9 Richard Price: Apostle of Liberty 90
  • Notes 103
  • 10 - The Single Legal Victim of the American Revolution 105
  • Notes 111
  • 11 - Dean Tucker: He Told Them So! 112
  • Notes 117
  • 12 - Governor Pownall Fights to the Finish 119
  • Notes 125
  • 13 - David Hartley: Amateur Diplomat 127
  • Notes 137
  • 14 - Charles James Fox: the Life of the Party 139
  • Notes 151
  • 15 - "Peace, Peace, When There is No Peace" 154
  • Notes 162
  • 16 - Summary and Conclusions 164
  • Bibliography 173
  • Index 179
  • About the Author *
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