Patriot Whigs

Last updated
Patriot Whigs
Leader Earl of Bath
(amongst others)
Founded 1725
Dissolved 1803
Merged into
  • Mainstream Whigs
  • Pittites
Ideology
  • Whiggism
  • Anti-Walpole executive
  • Anti-nepotism
  • Anti-corruption
National affiliation Whigs

The Patriot Whigs and, later Patriot Party, were a group within the Whig party in Great Britain from 1725 to 1803. The group was formed in opposition to the ministry of Robert Walpole in the House of Commons in 1725, when William Pulteney (later 1st Earl of Bath) and seventeen other Whigs joined with the Tory party in attacks against the ministry. By the middle of the 1730s, there were over one hundred opposition Whigs in the Commons, many of whom embraced the Patriot label. For many years they provided a more effective opposition to the Walpole administration than the Tories. [1]

Kingdom of Great Britain constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707–1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

Robert Walpole British statesman

Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford,, known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British statesman who is generally regarded as the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain.

William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath 18th-century English politician

William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath, was an English Whig politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1707 to 1742 when he was created the first Earl of Bath by King George II. He is sometimes stated to have been Prime Minister, for the shortest term ever in 1746, although most modern sources reckon that he cannot be considered to have held the office.

The Whig Patriots believed that under Walpole the executive had grown too powerful through abuse of patronage and government placemen in Parliament. They also accused Walpole personally of being too partisan, too important, and too eager to keep competent potential rivals out of positions of influence. He was further suspected of enriching himself from the public purse. Discontent with Walpole among his fellow Whigs had first been brought to a crisis with the South Sea Bubble and his role as a "screen" to the South Sea directors (and the fact that he had made a profit despite the crash). Under Queen Anne, the Tories had sent Walpole to the Tower for misappropriations as Secretary at War, and even radical Whigs such as John Tutchin had publicly accused him of siphoning off money. [2]

Parliament of the United Kingdom supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom

The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.

Anne, Queen of Great Britain Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland (1702–07); queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1707–14)

Anne was the Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland between 8 March 1702 and 1 May 1707. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1714.

Tower of London A historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London

The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard I, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.

As self-declared "patriots", the Patriot Whigs were often critical of Britain's foreign policy, especially under the first two Hanoverian kings. Many were convinced that the traditional Whig policy of "No Peace Without Spain" had been correct, and that Madrid and France were potentially dangerous to Britain. In 1739 their attacks in Parliament against the Walpole ministry's policy toward Spain helped stir up widespread public anger, which led to the War of Jenkins' Ear and ultimately to Walpole's fall three years later during the War of the Austrian Succession. [3]

No Peace Without Spain was a popular British political slogan of the early eighteenth century. It referred to the ongoing War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) which Britain was leading participant in. It implied that no peace treaty could be agreed with Britain's principal enemy Louis XIV of France that allowed Philip, the French candidate, to retain the Spanish crown. The term became a rallying cry for opposition to the Tory government of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford and the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht.

War of Jenkins Ear conflict between Great Britain and Spain

The War of Jenkins' Ear was a conflict between Britain and Spain lasting from 1739 to 1748, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its unusual name, coined by British historian Thomas Carlyle in 1858, refers to an ear severed from Robert Jenkins, a captain of a British merchant ship. There is no evidence that supports the stories that the severed ear was exhibited before the British Parliament.

War of the Austrian Succession Dynastic war in Austro-Hungary

The War of the Austrian Succession involved most of the powers of Europe over the issue of Archduchess Maria Theresa's succession to the Habsburg Monarchy. The war included peripheral events such as King George's War in British America, the War of Jenkins' Ear, the First Carnatic War in India, the Jacobite rising of 1745 in Scotland, and the First and Second Silesian Wars.

An early focus for the Whig Patriots was The Craftsman , a newspaper founded in 1726 by Pulteney and Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, the former Tory minister, who for a decade called for a "country" party coalition of non-Jacobite Tories and opposition Whigs to defeat Walpole and the Court Whigs. Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, and Henry Fielding all wrote for The Craftsman. Bolingbroke's The Idea of a Patriot King (1738; published 1749) adopted the language of "patriotism" to critique political theories used by Walpole and his successors to justify their actions. Many of the anti-Walpolean satires of the 1730s mixed Tory and Patriot Whig stances, and some authors, such as Henry Carey, were simultaneously satirizing Queen Caroline for her backing of Walpole and penning patriotic operas and songs (e.g. Rule, Britannia! , God Save the King ). [4] [5]

<i>The Craftsman</i> (newspaper) 18th-century British newspaper

The Craftsman, also known as The Country Journal or, The Craftsman or The Craftsman: Being a Critique on the Times, was a British newspaper which operated from 1726-1752. Established by Lord Bolingbroke and William Pulteney, it was edited by Nicholas Amhurst under the pseudonym "Caleb D'Anvers." It is known for publishing letters and essays from Lord Bolingbroke.

Jonathan Swift 17th/18th-century Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, and poet

Jonathan Swift was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

Alexander Pope English poet

Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet. He is best known for his satirical verse, including Essay on Criticism, The Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad, and for his translation of Homer. He is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations after Shakespeare.

The Patriot Whigs never achieved majority power while Walpole remained in office, and their cohesion was undermined in 1742 when some of their leaders joined the government after Walpole's fall and Pulteney was elevated to the House of Lords. [6] However, William Pitt the Elder would gather around himself the "Patriot Party", and even when in office he would continue to use the language of the Patriot Whigs. The remnants of those who identified as Patriots would later join the unofficial "party" of his son, William Pitt the Younger. Over the decades, these associations would contribute significant personnel and Parliamentary support to government ministries.

House of Lords upper house in the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is granted by appointment or else by heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. Officially, the full name of the house is the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham 18th-century British statesman

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, was a British statesman of the Whig group who served twice as Prime Minister of Great Britain in the middle of the 18th century. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, who also was a prime minister. Pitt was also known as The Great Commoner, because of his long-standing refusal to accept a title until 1766.

William Pitt the Younger 18th/19th-century British statesman

William Pitt the Younger was a prominent British Tory statesman of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. He became the youngest UK Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24. He left office in 1801, but served as Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer for most of his time as Prime Minister. He is known as "the Younger" to distinguish him from his father, William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, called William Pitt the Elder or simply "Chatham", who had previously served as Prime Minister.

Notes

  1. Dickinson, Walpole and the Whig Supremacy (1973)
  2. Dickinson, Walpole and the Whig Supremacy (1973)
  3. Black, British Foreign Policy in the Age of Walpole (1984)
  4. Robbins, The eighteenth-century commonwealthman (1959)
  5. Gerrard, The Patriot Opposition to Walpole (1995)
  6. Dickinson, Walpole and the Whig Supremacy (1973)

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