Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
King George III in Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
King George III (1738-1820), or George William Frederick, was king of Great Britain and Ireland from 1760-1820. He ascended to the throne just as the French and Indian War was coming to a close, a fateful moment for world history. The Peace of Paris that followed in 1763 led to a number of changes in English policy, which sparked multiple conflicts with the American colonists and contributed to an increasingly hostile dynamic. This dynamic would eventually spark the American Revolution twelve years later.
A flawed ruler himself, George appointed a series of rather incompetent men to serve as his ministers. The result was inconsistency in governmental policy: under George Grenville (1763-65), the wildly unpopular Stamp Act was imposed on the colonies; it was repealed under the Marquess of Rockingham (1765-66), only to have new duties levied with the Townshend Acts of Lord Chatham (1766-68). Meanwhile, George gave in to the reality of patronage politics and lavishly doled out favors in return for a coterie of "king's friends" in Parliament. This later became fodder for American charges of corruption, foppery, and irresponsible degradation in the English government. In response to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, George famously told Lord North that "The colonists must either submit or triumph," and so they did.1