William The Younger Pitt

Pitt, William (The Younger)


Born May 28, 1759, in Hayes, Kent; died Jan. 23, 1806, in Putney. British statesman. Son of W. Pitt the Elder.

In 1776, Pitt graduated from Cambridge University, where he studied law. Elected to Parliament in 1781, he became the leader of the “new Tories,” who were closely linked with bourgeois bankers, colonial businessmen, and part of the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie. From July 1782 to February 1783, Pitt was chancellor of the exchequer; from 1783 to 1801 and from 1804 to 1806 he served as prime minister. In 1784 he carried a bill that limited the rights of the East India Company and placed the administration of India under government control. This encouraged broader circles of the British bourgeoisie to take part in the colonialist exploitation of India.

In 1786, Pitt concluded a commercial treaty with France. The treaty, which provided for a reciprocal reduction of customs duties, opened the French market for British factory-produced goods. In order to weaken Russia, Pitt encouraged the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–91 and the Russo-Swedish War of 1788–90, giving as much diplomatic support as possible to Turkey and Sweden.

After the beginning of the Great French Revolution, Pitt became one of the principal organizers of the coalitions against revolutionary and, later, Napoleonic France. He considered the struggle against France—Great Britain’s chief rival—to be his main purpose in life. The Pitt government provided extensive financial support for espionage and diversionary activity against the French.

In domestic policy, the democratic movement, which had grown strong under the influence of the French Revolution, was suppressed by the government, which ordered mass arrests of the movement’s adherents. In 1797 the government put down a revolt by sailors, in 1799 and 1800 it pushed through laws prohibiting the establishment and activity of workers’ organizations, and in 1798 it suppressed a national liberation uprising in Ireland. Under the Act of Union (1801) the autonomous Irish parliament was abolished.

Pitt was opposed to the Treaty of Amiens (1802) with France. In 1805 he proceeded to organize a new anti-French coalition.


Speeches, 2nd ed., vols. 1–3. London, 1808.
Rose, J. H. Pitt and Napoleon: Essays and Letters. London, 1912.


Stanhope, P. H. Life of the Honourable W. Pitt, vols. 1–3. London, 1879.
Rosebery, Earl of (A. Primrose). Life of Pitt. London, 1891.
Rose, J. H. The Life of W. Pitt…. London, 1923.
Lever, T. The House of Pitt. London, 1947.
Chastenet, J. W. Pitt. Paris, 1959.