George III. The American Revolution
In 1760, after George II his grandson became George III.George III was the first representative of the Hanover dynasty, who showed real interest in British foreign and domestic affairs; he wanted to rule, not only to reign. George III differed much from his Hanoverian ancestors, who remained German to the end of their lives.
George III ignored the Parliament, which mostly consisted of the Tories. He formed the so-called "Ministry of the King's friends", whose advice often made ill service for British foreign policy. Severe economic measures introduced by that Ministry in American colonies led to the War of Independence, which proved to be disastrous for the interests of the British Empire.
The English settlements, which emerged in North America early in the 17th century, formed an important marked for Britain by the end of the 18th century. English government regarded American colonies as a source of cheap raw materials for the home industry and a marked for English manufactured goods. The colonies were forbidden to import manufactured goods from any foreign country; the development of American industry was checked and restricted. The direct trade between American colonies and European countries was also prohibited. This was a period when smuggling became a national employment in America because of heavy taxes on imported goods.
In 1776, the thirteen colonies on the mainland of North America declared themselves independent. The war between the colonies and Great Britain broke out. This war lasted for seven years and finally transformed into a war of Britain against half the world: France and Spain were fighting by sea and land; Prussia, Russia, Holland and Scandinavian countries united in the "armed neutrality of the North", in Ireland, for the first and last time in history, Protestants and Catholics united their forces against Britain.
The war with American colonies, which lasted from 1775 until 1783, was lost. The result was a complete defeat of the British forces. Britain lost all her colonies in America, except Canada. By the treaty of Versailles in 1783, the American colonies gained independence. The American colonies were transformed into the United States of America with George Washington as their President.
The war with America increased the anticolonial movement faced by the Empire and it was a great blow to the British government and the Crown.
The whole war showed the necessity of the Cabinet government, so the Cabinet system was restored. Now the Prime Minister was Head of the party with a majority in the Commons, to which he was responsible. That was a complete defeat for the policy of personal government provided by George III.
William Pitt the Younger became the first Prime Minister after the American War. The measures took by his government helped to minimise the destructive effect of the war — Pitt provided the policy of free trade as a means of increasing the nation's wealth and promoted various Bills to strengthen the government in the remaining colonies. All these measures allowed Britain to increase colonial possession on a new scale.
Cultural Focus: Cabinet GovernmentSystem
The Cabinet Government system started in the 18th century as a grouping of important ministers and officials of the royal household.
The leading position in the Cabinet was associated with the Treasury, so the name "Prime Minister" was first applied to Lord Treasurer. Today the Prime Minister is also First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service.
Since the 19th century, the Prime Minister has been the leader of the party with a majority in the House of Commons. The monarch's role in the Government is limited to acting on the advice of ministers.
The Prime Minister today informs the Queen of the general business of the Government, presides over the Cabinet and is responsible for the allocations of functions among ministers.
The Cabinet meets once a week and takes decisions about new policies and different current affairs.
Task4. Discussion. Before the 18th century the key political figures of historical interest were kings and queens, after the 18th century — Prime Ministers. Why? What were the factors that caused this change? Why is this system so typically English?