Born on 13rd of April 1732
Died on 5th of August 1792
Quotes from Lord North
'Men may be popular without bei'... More
For all his undoubted merits Frederick, 8th Lord North, will forever be the Prime Minister who lost the American colonies for Britain.
Born in Piccadilly into a politically powerful family on April 13 1732 (though rumours hint his true father was Prince Frederick, son of George II and father of George III), Lord North followed a conventional path in his youth: Eton; Trinity College Cambridge; the grand tour, and then entry into Parliament aged just 22, elected unopposed as MP for Banbury in 1754. His political allegiance was unsure – early on he favoured Whig thinking, but soon drifted towards the Tories.
By 1759 North was a junior treasury minister, an area of expertise that suited him – he went on to be Joint Forces Paymaster, and in 1767 an exceptionally young Chancellor of the Exchequer, a post he held under Pitt the Elder (though Grafton was de facto PM with Pitt generally unwell) and then Grafton himself. When Grafton resigned in January 1770 North was the obvious candidate to succeed him.
Initially North was a successful PM: blocking the Spanish move against the Falkland Islands was hugely popular, and made North look the strong man. All political careers are doomed to end in failure, but North’s failure was long and drawn out: he was incapable of controlling the drift towards independence of the American colonies; he listened too much to the King, who utterly misread the nature of the American situation; the French, Dutch and Spanish sided against Britain in the face of lacklustre diplomacy. When George Washington won the decisive Battle of Yorktown in 1781, North’s administration was doomed. He was humiliatingly forced to resign on March 20 by a vote of no confidence.
In a marriage of very strange political bedfellows North in 1783 formed a short-lived alliance with the radical Whig Charles James Fox, with the Duke of Portland a figurehead PM. It fell apart in months, though not before settling the aftermath of the American War of Independence via the Treaty of Paris. North’s wanderings in the political desert were sealed by George III’s anger at his link with Fox, and by North’s gross error in misjudging Pitt the Younger as likely to fail rapidly. Pitt achieved greatness; North remained a backbencher until leaving Parliament in 1790. He died in London on August 5 1792.
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