On today in 1792, John Stuart, 3rd earl of Bute and advisor to the British king, George III, dies in London.
Although most Americans have in no way heard his name, Lord Bute played a considerable part in the politics of the British empire that spawned the American Revolution. A wealthy Scottish noble, educated at the prestigious Eton College and University of Leiden, Bute became Prince George’s tutor in 1755. He also befriended George’s mother, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the dowager princess of Wales. This relationship, though verified to be sexual never, resulted in a significant scandal when it had been discussed by radical English pamphleteer John Wilkes. Wilkes abhorred Bute and named his newspaper North Briton, a synonym for Scot, as a primary reference, and insult, to Bute’s Scottish origins.
Prince George became King George III in 1760, whilst Britain was amid the Seven Years’ War with France. The king, alongside Bute, who was simply his advisor now, worried that the tremendous expense of the war in North America and concerning the planet would drive Britain to bankruptcy. William Pitt, whose military method and political finesse had transformed the American branch of the war, defined as the French and Indian War, from disaster to triumph, argued for a preemptive strike against Spain in 1761 to avoid them from aligning with France. The king, with Bute’s guidance, not merely rejected Pitt’s thought, but forced him to resign. In January 1762, Spain joined the war privately of France, as Pitt predicted. Despite a resounding victory in North America, the king followed Bute’s guidance to get rid of the war on other fronts as speedily as achievable, returning substantial portions of land. (They may have even returned Canada, if the French had asked for this.) Lambasted by the British press for his poor selection-producing, most famously in John Wilkes’ 45th edition of the North Briton, Bute lastly lost the king’s trust and resigned upon the signing of the Treaty of Paris in February 1763.
The squabbling between Bute, Pitt and Wilkes had a lasting influence on Anglo-American politics. In 1763, the brand new 1st lord of the treasury (or prime minister), George Grenville, attemptedto prosecute Wilkes for questioning the king’s integrity in North Briton No. 45. Meanwhile, Grenville started an idea of taxation in the American colonies to assist refill Britain’s coffers, drained by the expenditures of the Seven Years’ War. Wilkes’ arrest and eventual banishment to France created him a martyr for liberty in the eyes of several Britons in the home as effectively as in those of the American colonists because they strained beneath the taxes along with other costly measures imposed by Grenville’s ministry.