intended to make a motion for the removal of the ministers, announced that it was no longer necessary and that he looked forward to new ministers who would have "the confidence of the people, save the empire from destruction, and rescue the character of the nation from contempt." 50
Lord North had been preparing the king for this contingency ever since General Conway's motion to end the American war had been approved on February 28, 1782, by a majority of nineteen votes. That same day, North suggested that at least some members of the opposition be taken into the ministry. Negotiations began with the duke of Grafton but he declined. It soon became obvious that either Rockingham or Shelburne was the only viable choice, but Rockingham laid down certain demands including the recognition of American independence, which the king found unacceptable. On March 19, North assured the king that "the fate of the present Ministry is absolutely and irrevocably decided" and that he [the king] could yield without loss of honor "to the opinion and wishes of the House of Commons" and select either Rockingham or Shelburne as his chief minister. The king's churlish reply to his faithful minister was to warn him, "if You resign before I have decided what I will do, You will certainly for ever forfeit my regard." North could only abjectly beg the king to allow him to resign rather than be "forever stigmatized" as having been ousted from office by a vote in the House of Commons. 51
One of the outgoing ministers then approached Shelburne, whom North thought more pliable than Rockingham, but he was only willing to serve under Rockingham. Finally, the king capitulated and on March 27 accepted Rockingham as his chief minister and Richmond as master general of the Ordinance. 52 Rockingham had been in opposition for sixteen interminable years, but his return to office was terminated in a little more than three months by his untimely death on July 1, 1782. And on that sad note, we shall terminate this chapter and return to our "friends" outside of Parliament.