George Canning

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Canning, George,

1770–1827, British statesman. Canning was converted to Toryism by the French Revolution, became a disciple of William Pitt, and was his undersecretary for foreign affairs (1796–99). To bring ridicule upon English radicals and Whigs who favored the Revolution, he contributed numerous articles to the Anti-Jacobin (1797–98). During the war against Napoleon I, he served as treasurer of the navy (1804–6) and was foreign minister (1807–9). He exerted great influence in military affairs, planning the seizure of the Danish fleet at Copenhagen (1807) and supporting British intervention in Spain and Portugal (see Peninsular WarPeninsular War,
1808–14, fought by France against Great Britain, Portugal, Spanish regulars, and Spanish guerrillas in the Iberian Peninsula. Origin and Occupation
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). However, he quarreled with Lord CastlereaghCastlereagh, Robert Stewart, 2d Viscount
, 1769–1822, British statesman, b. Ireland. Entering the Irish Parliament in 1790 and the British Parliament in 1794, he was acting chief secretary for Ireland at the time
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, and after a duel, in which Canning was wounded, both resigned from the ministry. He later served (1816–20) as president of the board of control for India, resigning in protest against the government's prosecution of Queen Caroline. Recalled to the foreign office after Castlereagh's suicide (1822), he reversed previous policy toward the Holy AllianceHoly Alliance,
1815, agreement among the emperors of Russia and Austria and the king of Prussia, signed on Sept. 26. It was quite distinct from the Quadruple Alliance (Quintuple, after the admission of France) of Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, arrived at first in
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, refusing to cooperate in the suppression of European revolutions. He protested the decisions of the Congress of VeronaVerona, Congress of,
1822, at Verona, Italy, the last European conference held under the provisions of the Quadruple Alliance of 1814. The main problem discussed was the revolution in Spain against Ferdinand VII, and the congress decided that a French army, under mandate of the
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 (1822) and, although unable to prevent French intervention in Spain, later sent an army to Portugal to foil absolutist intervention there. His policies toward the Spanish colonies in America, whose independence he recognized, led to the promulgation of the Monroe DoctrineMonroe Doctrine,
principle of American foreign policy enunciated in President James Monroe's message to Congress, Dec. 2, 1823. It initially called for an end to European intervention in the Americas, but it was later extended to justify U.S.
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. He arranged the French-Russian-British agreement, which, after his death, resulted in Greek independence. After the resignation of Lord Liverpool, Canning became (Apr., 1827) prime minister, but he died four months later.


See biography by W. Hinde (1973, repr. 1989); studies by D. Marshall (1938), C. A. Petrie (2d ed. 1946), H. W. V. Temperley (1925, repr. 1966, and 1905, repr. 1968).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Canning, George


Born Apr. 11, 1770, in London; died Aug. 8, 1827, in Chiswick. British statesman, Tory.

Canning graduated from Oxford University in 1791. He was elected to Parliament in 1793. From 1796 to 1799 he was undersecretary of state for foreign affairs in the cabinet of W. Pitt the Younger. He was foreign secretary from 1807 to 1809. A strong opponent of Napoleonic France, he conducted a policy of actively supporting Spain with financial, diplomatic, and military aid. From 1814 to 1816 he was ambassador to Portugal. He supported the repressive measures of the Liverpool government against the democratic movement in Britain; at the same time he headed the so-called Left Tories, who came out for certain concessions to the industrial bourgeoisie. In 1822 he became an influential member of Liverpool’s cabinet, in which he was foreign secretary. He succeeded in carrying through certain reforms (lowering the duties on grain and raw materials, facilitating the export of industrial goods, easing some criminal laws). In 1823 he condemned the French intervention in Spain and supported the British government’s recognition of the independence of the former Spanish colonies in Latin America. He supported the autonomy of Greece, where in 1821 an uprising had broken out against the Turkish yoke. In April 1827 he became prime minister.

Canning was an energetic and flexible director of British foreign policy. Expressing the aspirations of the English bourgeoisie for the establishment of hegemony in Europe and in world markets, he adopted a policy of opposition to the policies of the continental powers of the Holy Alliance.


Speeches, vols. 1–6. London, 1828.


Tarle, E. V. “Angliiskaia godovshchina: 1827–1902.” Soch., vol. 1. Moscow, 1957.
Petrie, C. George Canning, 2nd ed. London, 1946.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1802 George Canning warned that if the newly ceded island of Trinidad were cultivated to the same level as Jamaica, one million slaves would be poured into its "forests and morasses." As Kit Candlin shows in this excellent study, the colonies of the southern Caribbean, the "last frontier" of British Atlantic expansion, have often been overlooked in general assessments of race and "class" in the circum-Caribbean.
They must have struck some of his contemporaries as preposterous, as well, since a group of prominent conservatives comprising George Canning, the future prime minister, John Hookham Frere, the diplomat, and George Ellis, the satirist and Member of Parliament, parodied Darwin's work in their own poem, The Loves of the Triangles (1798), published in The Anti-Jacobin, a short-lived newspaper they produced to refute republican principles.
It is regarded as one of the most privileged schools in the country, with Prince William and George Canning amongst its impressive list of former students.
Such diplomacy is a far cry from the days of former British Foreign Secretary George Canning, lauded in South America for swinging Britain behind successful South American independence movements against Spain and Portugal in the early 1800s.
And if the sculpture seems to strain against the 18th century refinements of Harewood and its position in a dull light, facing a bland marble bust of George Canning (Prime Minister in 1827), the work's status is at last fully acknowledged and honoured by Lord Harewood's act of patronage.
This biography of John Wilson Croker, an prominent, but often historically overlooked, writer, politician and social critic of the nineteenth century argues that the Irish born Tory activist was perhaps the true father of English conservatism rather than his more heralded colleagues Sir Robert Peel or George Canning. Drawing on primary source documents held in the US and England and contemporary press accounts, Portsmouth (history, National University of Ireland, Galway) constructs a portrait of Croker as a true moderate who believed that the way towards progress both in his native Ireland and throughout the British political realm was a rejection of the "ultra" radical elements on both sides of the political spectrum.
PUBNAMESTHECANNING Fenton, Staffordshire THIS pub, in the Staffordshire town of Fenton, has nothing to do with metal tins, but a lot to do with George Canning (1770 to 1827) who was a distinguished English statesmen, orator and wit.
Britain, so historically proud of its navy, was initially overconfident of success and the American ships were more powerful, prompting losses that moved the later prime minister, George Canning, to declare in early 1813: 'The sacred spell of the invincibility of the British navy is broken.'
George Canning in his infinite glibness, the Duke of Wellington, Disraeli, Rosebery and Balfour were rather more one-sided or limited in their talents; Wellington too impatient and Rosebery too fastidious or perhaps too self-absorbed to be entirely successful as politicians, Disraeli perhaps too carried away by his discovery that politics in a mass society was essentially a matter of myth and drama, Balfour too laid-back - perhaps too much the philosopher - to keep his Cabinet in order: but these too were remarkable men.
Roger Hilliard, whose 94-year-old mother, Honor, has lived at the George Canning Day Centre, in Washwood Heath, for more than five years, said he was furious at plans to bring forward a date for the closure of the home.
One pair, Viscount Castlereagh and George Canning, even fought a duel over their differences during the Napoleonic wars; the others stuck to verbal assaults, but the intensity of their clashes certainly warrants the title.