Patriot Whigs


Patriot Whigs

The Patriot Whigs and, later Patriot Party, was a group within the Whig party in Great Britain from 1725 to 1803. The group was formed in opposition to the ministry of Robert Walpole in the House of Commons in 1725, when William Pulteney (later 1st Earl of Bath) and seventeen other Whigs joined with the Tory party in attacks against the ministry. By the middle of the 1730s, there were over one hundred opposition Whigs in the Commons, many of whom embraced the Patriot label. For many years they provided a more effective opposition to the Walpole administration than the Tories.[1]

The Whig Patriots believed that under Walpole the executive had grown too powerful through abuse of patronage and government placemen in Parliament. They also accused Walpole personally of being too partisan, too important, and too eager to keep competent potential rivals out of positions of influence. He was further suspected of enriching himself from the public purse. Discontent with Walpole among his fellow Whigs had first been brought to a crisis with the South Sea Bubble and his role as a "screen" to the South Sea directors (and the fact that he had made a profit despite the crash). Under Queen Anne, the Tories had sent Walpole to the Tower for misappropriations as Secretary at War, and even radical Whigs such as John Tutchin had publicly accused him of siphoning off money.[2]

As self-declared "patriots," the Patriot Whigs were often critical of Britain's foreign policy, especially under the first two Hanoverian kings. In 1739 their attacks in Parliament against the Walpole ministry's policy toward Spain helped stir up widespread public anger, which led to the War of Jenkins' Ear and ultimately to Walpole's fall three years later during the War of the Austrian Succession. [3]

An early focus for the Whig Patriots was The Craftsman, a newspaper founded in 1726 by Pulteney and Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, the former Tory minister, who for a decade called for a "country" party coalition of non-Jacobite Tories and opposition Whigs to defeat Walpole and the Court Whigs. Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, and Henry Fielding all wrote for The Craftsman. Bolingbroke's The Idea of a Patriot King (1738; published 1749) adopted the language of "patriotism" to critique political theories used by Walpole and his successors to justify their actions. Many of the anti-Walpolean satires of the 1730s mixed Tory and Patriot Whig stances, and some authors, such as Henry Carey, were simultaneously satirizing Queen Caroline for her backing of Walpole and penning patriotic operas and songs (e.g. Rule, Brittania!, God Save the King).[4] [5]

The Patriot Whigs never achieved majority power while Walpole remained in office, and their cohesion was undermined in 1742 when some of their leaders joined the government after Walpole's fall and Pulteney was elevated to the House of Lords.[6] However, William Pitt the Elder would gather around himself the "Patriot Party", and even when in office he would continue to use the language of the Patriot Whigs. The remnants of those who identified as Patriots would later join the unofficial "party" of his son, William Pitt the Younger. Over the decades, these associations would contribute significant personnel and Parliamentary support to government ministries.

Further reading

  • Jeremy Black, British Foreign Policy in the Age of Walpole (London: Macmillan 1984; reissue Aldershott: Gregg Revivals 1993)
  • H. T. Dickinson, Walpole and the Whig Supremacy (London: English Universities Press 1973)
  • Christine Gerrard, The Patriot Opposition to Walpole: Politics, Poetry, and National Myth, 1725-1742 (London: Oxford University Press, 1995)
  • Caroline Robbins, The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman: Studies in the Transmission, Development, and Circumstance of English Liberal Thought from the Restoration of Charles II until the War with the Thirteen Colonies (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press1959; reissue Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund 2004)

references

  1. ^ Dickinson, Walpole and the Whig Supremacy (1973)
  2. ^ Dickinson, Walpole and the Whig Supremacy (1973)
  3. ^ Black, British Foreign Policy in the Age of Walpole (1984)
  4. ^ Robbins, The eighteenth-century commonwealthman (1959)
  5. ^ Gerrard, The Patriot Opposition to Walpole (1995)
  6. ^ Dickinson, Walpole and the Whig Supremacy (1973)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Patriot (American Revolution) — This article concerns Patriots in the American Revolution. For other uses, see Patriot (disambiguation). Patriots (also known as Americans, Whigs, Revolutionaries, Congress Men or Rebels) was the name the colonists of the British Thirteen… …   Wikipedia

  • Patriot Party — There have been several groups called the Patriot Party, the Patriotic Party, or similar:* Patriots (faction) (in Dutch: Patriotten) a political faction in the Netherlands in the second half of the eighteenth century *Aruban Patriotic Party… …   Wikipedia

  • Patriot (Révolution américaine) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Patriot. Patriots (également appelés Americans, Whigs, Revolutionaries, Insurgents, Congress Men ou Rebels) est le nom que se donnaient les colons britanniques des Treize colonies qui se rebellèrent contre la… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Irish Patriot Party — The Irish Patriot Party was the name of a number of different political groupings in Ireland throughout the eighteenth century. They were primarily supportive of Whig concepts of personal liberty combined with a Irish nationalism that rejected… …   Wikipedia

  • Radical Whigs — The Radical Whigs or Jug Heads were a group of British political commentators associated with the British Whig faction who were at the forefront of Radicalism . They played a significant role in the development of the American Revolution, as… …   Wikipedia

  • Whig (British political party) — Whigs Founded 1678 Dissolved 1868 Preceded by Count …   Wikipedia

  • United Kingdom — a kingdom in NW Europe, consisting of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: formerly comprising Great Britain and Ireland 1801 1922. 58,610,182; 94,242 sq. mi. (244,100 sq. km). Cap.: London. Abbr.: U.K. Official name, United Kingdom of Great… …   Universalium

  • American Revolution — The American Revolution refers to the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which the Thirteen Colonies of North America overthrew the governance of the British Empire and collectively became the nation of the United… …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle — For other people named Duke of Newcastle, see Dukes of Newcastle. His Grace The Duke of Newcastle KG PC Prime Minister of Great Britain …   Wikipedia

  • Cobhamites — Lord Cobham the founder and the patron of the group The Cobhamite faction (often known as Cobham s Cubs) were an 18th century British political faction built around Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham and his supporters. Perhaps most notably the… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.