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Henry Pelham

Not particularly well known for much of anything, Pelham held several offices in Walpole's cabinet over a period of 21 years, during which time he practiced the art of maintaining the status quo. Such was the flavour of the times. He was not particularly accomplished as a statesman, but he made few waves, administering the government and keeping Britain out of war. After the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1751 Henry Pelham along with his brother, the Duke of Newcastle, were said to have "ruled" the ministry as well as England until Henry died, 6 March 1754.

Politics in the early 1750's were mechanized, entirely dominated by the upper class who controlled both houses of Parliament and the elections to them. Since the ministry of Walpole, the social order had been more or less defined by a small group of Whig families who dominated the political landscape wielding power and influence in a manner that has been termed "comfortable corruption." Seats in Parliament were bought, the going wholesale rate pegged at about 10,000. Elections were arranged to avoid contests that had proven to be too expensive. Most candidates ran unopposed and fewer than 85,000 people out of a population of about six million (1760-80) actually voted in elections held in 204 towns and boroughs. British elections, the truth be told, were neither free or democratic. The system was not designed for flexibility or to accommodate discontent or representation on the part of the common man or the middle class of merchants in England or the colonies.


1743 - Antonine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry is born in France. Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. president, drafter of the Declaration of Independence and Democratic Party founder is born.
1744 - France declares war on England. Frederick the Great occupies Prague, marking the beginning of the Second Silesian War. Robert Clive arrives in Madras, India, clerking for the East India Company. Alexander Pope dies. Mount Cotopaxi in South America erupts.
1745 - The first women's cricket match was contested at Gosden Common near Guilford in Surrey. Jonathan Swift dies insane. Charles Edward Stuart invasion of England fails. The "Young Pretender" defeats the English at Prestonpans and advances south aiming at Derby. He is forced to retreat. The French are victorious over British forces at Fontenoy.
1746 - Battle of Culloden ends the Jacobite's rebellion. The defeated Charles Edward Stuart escapes to France. Great Britain prohibits the wearing of tartans. Lima and Callao, Peru are demolished by earthquake.
1747 - London's first VD clinic opens in Lock Hospital. Benjamin Franklin publishes "Plain Truth."
1748 - Cricket is ruled a "legal sport" by the Court of King's Bench. Thomas Lowndes establishes Cambridge's chair of astronomy. Russian troops march to the Rhine, by way of Bohemia.
1749 - The British Navy is reorganized by Act of Consolidation. Handel composes "Music for the Royal Fireworks." Henry Fielding publishes, "The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling." Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Germany's greatest writer, is born.
1750 - New York's first playhouse opens. The English Jockey Club is founded in London. An expedition to Cape of Good Hope, led by French astronomer Nicolas de Lacaille determines solar and lunar parallax.
1751 - Frederick, Prince of Wales dies suddenly, 20 March. British calendar altered; January 1st established as the beginning of the New Year by Act of Parliament. First asylums for the mentally disturbed opened in London. China invades Tibet. England joins the Austrian-Russian alliance against Prussia.
1752 - Britain adopts the Georgian calendar. William Law publishes, "The Way to Divine Knowledge." Benjamin Franklin invents the lightening conductor.
1753 - French troops dispatched from Canada take the Ohio Valley, first settled in 1749. In England, Act of Parliament legalizes naturalization of Jews. The Newmarket racetrack is established. Land tax is instituted and the Marriage Act forbids unauthorized persons to marry.

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