George III - Bute Administration - Peace of 1763

Soon after his accession, George III espoused the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, by whom he had a large family. One of his earliest political measures was to confer one of the state-secretaryships upon the Earl of Bute, a Scottish nobleman of Tory or Jacobite predilections, who had been his preceptor, and possessed a great influence over his mind. This, with other alterations, infused a peaceful disposition into his majesty's counsels, which was not much relished by Mr. Pitt. That minister, having secretly discovered that Spain was about to join France against Brit ain, and being thwarted in the line of policy, which he consequently thought it necessary to assume, retired with a pension, and a peerage 'to his wife; after which the ministry was rendered still less of a warlike temper. A negotiation for peace was entered into with France, which offered, for that end, to give up almost all her colonial possessions. The demands of the British were, however, rather more exorbitant than France expected, and not only was the treaty broken off, but Spain commenced those hostilities which Mr. Pitt had foretold. Nevertheless, Britain continued that splendid career of conquest, which, except at the beginning, had been her fortune during the whole of this war. In a very few months Spain lost Havana, Manilla, and all the Philippine Isles. The Spanish forces were also driven out of Portugal, which they had unjustly invaded. At sea the British fleets reigned everywhere triumphant, and at no former period was the country in so proud a situation. The ministry, however, were sensible that war, even with all this good fortune, was a losing game; and they therefore, much against the will of the nation, concluded a peace in February 1763.

By this treaty Great Britain gave up a certain portion of her conquests, in exchange for others which had been wrested from her; but she was nevertheless a gainer to an immense amount. She acquired from the French, Canada, that part of Louisiana east of the Mississippi, Cape Breton, Senegal, the islands of Grenada, Dominica, St. Vincent's, and Tobago, with all the acquisitions which the French had made upon the Coromandel coast in the East Indias since 1749. From Spain she acquired Minorca, East and West Florida, with certain privileges of value. The continental states in alliance with Great Britain were also left as they had been. These advantages on the part of Great Britain had been purchased at the expense of an addition of sixty millions to the national debt, which now amounted in all to £133,959,270.

Since the accession of the Brunswick family in 1714, the government had been chiefly conducted by the Whig party, who formed a very powerful section of the aristocracy of England. Walpole, Pelham, Newcastle, and Pitt, had all ruled chiefly through the strength of this great body, who, till the period subsequent to the rebellion of 1745, seem to have had the support of the most influential portion of the people. After that period, when the Stuart claims ceased to have any effect in keeping the crown in check, a division appears to have grown up between the government and the people, which was manifested in various forms even before the demise of George II, but broke out in a very violent manner during the early years of his successor's reign. George III, who had imbibed high notions of the royal prerogative from the Earl of Bute, showed, from the beginning of his career, an anxious desire to extend the power of the crown, to shake off the influence of the great Whig families, and keep popular force of all kinds within strict limits.

A stranger, with no connection in the country, a favorite, and, more over, a man of unprepossessing manners, the Earl of Bute had neither the support of the aristocracy nor of the people. He was assailed in Parliament, and through the newspapers, with the most violent abuse - the unpopular peace furnishing a powerful topic against him. To this storm he at length yielded, by retiring (April 8, 1763).