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William Pitt, the Younger
1783-1801, 1804-06

Son of William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham, this William Pitt is the youngest prime minister on record, winning the post at the tender age of 24 in 1783. As prime minister he is remembered for his tough policies against corruption, fiscal reform, shifting power toward the House of Commons and the union with Ireland.

Pitt was precocious, entering Cambridge at 14 and Parliament at 22. He was chancellor of the Exchequer in the government of William Petty, Earl of Shelburne (1782-83). The Tories and friends of George III helped him become prime minister.

Unlike his father, Pitt the Younger had a talent for finance. He restructured Britain's finances, negotiated new tariffs with France and faired well in office until 1793 when France declared war - the beginning of years of conflict. In 1798 the Irish revolted against his policies. His solution, the Act of Union 1800, included Catholic emancipation which was rejected by the king. Pitt resigned in protest in 1801.

Returning as prime minister in 1804, he gained the support of the Austrian, Russian and Swedish leaders in an attempt to defeat Napoleon's armies. The news of Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz in 1806 is said to have caused Pitt's death.

PHOTO CREDIT: Detail of painting in the National Portrait Gallery, London.


1783 - Britain recognizes the independence of America with the Peace of Versailles.
1784 - The Brighton Pavilion is built. The first school for the blind in opened in Paris. The East India Company is brought under control of the British government.
1785 - The seismograph is introduced for the measurement of earthquakes. Blanchard and Jeffries cross the English Channel by balloon.
1786 - Lord Cornwallis is named Governor-General of India. Rebellion of Daniel Shays in Massachusetts. Ezekiel Reed (American) invents a machine to manufacture nails. Charleston, NC Golf Club is founded.
1787 - Constitution of United States is signed. American Federal government is established. Pennsylvania becomes a state. Turkey declares war on Russia. John Fitch launches a steamboat on the Delaware River. The dollar is introduced in America. In England the Marylebone Cricket Club is formed and moves to Lord's.
1788 - Bread riots in France. Lord Byron is born. First cigar factory opened in Germany. New York is named as capital of the United States. New Hampshire ratifies the U.S. Constitution as ninth state. George III has attack of mental illness; crisis of power in England.
1789 - The French Revolution begins. Paris mob storms the Bastille. Lafayette becomes commander of National Guard. French feudal system is abolished. French King moves court from Versailles to Paris. Declaration of the Rights of Man issued. George Washington is elected president of the United States without opposition.
1790 - William Pitt refuses to recognize Belgium. Benjamin Franklin dies. Philadelphia is recognized as the capital of United States. First U.S. patent law is in force. Washington D. C. is founded. Jews in France are granted civil liberties.
1791 - U.S. Bill of Rights is ratified. Vermont becomes a state. Canada is divided into two provinces. Thomas Paine publishes "The Rights of Man." John Wesley, founder of the Methodists dies. The waltz becomes the dance in England. The first "English Stud Book" is published. Motion for the abolition of slave trade passed Parliament.
1792 - Mary Wollstonecraft, British feminist and writer, publishes "Vindication of the Rights of Women," the first feminist manifesto. George Washington is re-elected president of the United States without opposition. Construction on The White House is begun. The French Republic is proclaimed. The first guillotine in Paris.
1793 - Louis XVI is executed and the Reign of Terror in France begins. Queen Marie Antoinette is executed. Holy Roman Empires declares war on France. U.S. proclaims neutrality. Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin.
1794 - The Commune of Paris abolished. Robespierre executed. Jacobin Club is closed. U.S. Navy is created. The first telegraph is in Paris. Slavery is abolished in the French colonies.
1795 - Napolean appointed commander-in-chief in Italy.
1796 - George Washington refuses a third term as president. Napoleon marries Josephine de Beauharnais. he defeats Austrian army at Lodi; establishes two republics. John Adams is elected president of the United States. British capture Elba. Spain declares war on Britain. Peking forbids the importation of opium into China. France adopts the metric system.
1797 - Napoleon defeats Austrians at Rivoli and moves on to Vienna. He founds the Ligurian Republic of Genoa. Peace is instituted between France and Austria. Napoleon is appointed to lead troops in invasion of England. He arrives in Paris. Admiral Nelson and Jervis defeat the Spanish fleet at Cape St. Vincent. British sailors mutiny over poor conditions and low pay on the "Solent" at Spithead near Portmouth. John Adams is inaugurated as U.S. president.
1798 - The French take Rome and proclaim the Roman Republic; Pope Pius VI leaves the city. The French take Geneva and Bern in Switzerland and annex the left bank of the Rhine. Napoleon advances into Egypt, takes Malta, occupies Alexandria and with the winning of the Battle of the Pyramids becomes master of Egypt. The French fleet is destroyed by Nelson in Abukir Bay. The French land in Ireland. King Ferdinand IV of Naples declares war on France. The French overrun his Kingdom. In England, a 10 percent tax on incomes over 200 is introduced to help pay for the cost of war. In Germany, Aloys Senefelder invents the lithographic method of printing.
1799 - Napoleon and his troops invade Syria, defeats the Turkish army at Abukir, and leaves Egypt. Austria declares war on France and is victorious in battle at Stockach, Magnano and Zurich. French win at Bergenop-Zoom, but are defeated at Cassano. The Russians enter Turin. Britain joins the Russian-Turkish alliance. In America, George Washington dies. In Egypt the Rosetta Stone is found. In Siberia, a preserved mammoth is found in the ice. In France, Honore de Balzac, novelist, and Ferdinand Delacroix, painter, are born.
1800 - Napoleon's armies are victorious against the Turks at Helipolis, and the Austrians advancing toward Vienna. The British capture Malta. A plot to kill Napoleon is uncovered in Paris. In America, the capital is moved to Washington D. C. from Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson is elected president of the United States. Eli Whitney makes muskets with interchangeable parts. Infrared solar rays are discovered by WIlliam Herschel. In London, The Royal College of Surgeons is founded.
1801 - Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. Peace between Austria and France marks the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Thomas Jefferson inaugurated as U.S. President. Russian Czar Paul is assassinated. Nelson claims victory over Danish navy off the coast of Copenhagen. In France, Alexandre Dumas is born. In London, "Peerage" is published. Horse racing is introduced at Goodwood by the Duke of Richmond.

Second Ministry
1804 - Napoleon is proclaimed emperor in Paris and is crowned in the presence of Pope Pius VII. War in India between East India Company and Holkar of Indore. Spain declares war on England. Aaron Burr kills Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Benjamin Disraeli is born. Thomas Jefferson re-elected president of the United States. After a year of planning, the Lewis and Clark expedition heads west, exploring the valleys of the Missouri and Mississippi, over the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific. "History of British Birds" is finished by Thomas Bewick.
1805 - Napoleon crowned King of Italy. Wins over Austrian and Russian troops in Battle of Austerlitz. Austria and France make peace. Country of Egypt is established, Mehemet Ali is pasha. Britain and America in conflict over trade in the West Indies. Mungo Park embarks on second expedition to the Niger River. Morphine is isolated by F. W. A. Sarturner. Paganini, violinist extraordinaire, begins touring Europe.

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