William Pitt the elder, 1st earl of Chatham (1708-78)
British statesman, known as the Great Commoner. He gained his reputation attacking Walpole and demanding naval war against France to defend British Trade. He attacked British involvement in the War of the Austrian Succession as motivated only by concern for Hanover, which gained him public support but alienated George II. Pitt finally came to power after the resignation of the duke of Newcastle in November 1756, triggered by British defeats in the French and Indian War and Seven Years War, after which Pitt was created secretary of state, and controlled the war effort until 1761. He concentrated on defeated the French in Canada and on the seas, culminating at the 'Year of Triumph' (1759), marked by the capture of Quebec. At the same time Robert Clive was conquering India, and the two seperate victories established Britain as the main imperial power, vindicating Pitt. However, when George III came to the throne, Pitt found himself without royal support, and resigned in October 1761, before the end of the war. Although he returned to power for a short period later in the decade, he was incapacitated by illness. During the War of American Independence he campaigned tirelessly for reconciliation with the colonists.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (18 November 2000), William Pitt the elder, 1st earl of Chatham (1708-78), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_pittelder.html