George III of the United Kingdom
George III (George William Frederick) (June 4, 1738 – January 29, 1820) was King of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death. He was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire until his promotion to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He is known for serving as King during in the American Revolutionary War, and later during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
- Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Britain.
- Speech to Parliament (18 November 1760), quoted in P. D. G. Thomas, George III: King and Politicians, 1760–1770 (Manchester University Press, 2002), p. 33
- [U]pon pain of the highest displeasure, to assent to no law by which the importation of slaves should be in any respect prohibited or obstructed.
- As quoted in Harper's Encyclopædia of United States History: From 458 A.D. to 1902, Volume 8, p. 206
- By God, Harrison, I will see you righted!
- Once vigorous measures appear to be the only means left of bringing the Americans to a due submission to the mother country, the colonies will submit.
- When the unhappy and deluded multitude, against whom this force will be directed, shall become sensible of their error, I shall be ready to receive the misled with tenderness and mercy!
- Address to Parliament (27 October 1775).
- I was the last to consent to the separation; but the separation having been made and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the friendship of the United States as an independent power.
- To John Adams, as quoted in Adams, C.F. (editor) (1850–56), The works of John Adams, second president of the United States, vol. VIII, pp. 255–257, quoted in Ayling, p. 323 and Hibbert, p. 165.
Quotes about George III
- George III alienated the people of his American colonies by his tyrannical behavior, provoking them to take up arms to win their independence. The first of the Hanoverian kings to be born in England, George III was generally slow-witted: he certainly exhibited extraordinarily bad judgment when it came to picking prime ministers.
- Nigel Cawthorne, Tyrants: History's 100 Most Evil Despots & Dictators, New York : Barnes & Noble, (2006) ISBN 0760775672, p. 90
- The temper of the new ruler was adverse. George III had very clear ideas of what he wanted and where he was going. He meant to be King, such a King as all his countrymen would follow and revere. Under the long Whig regime the House of Commons had become an irresponsible autocracy. Would not the liberties of the country be safer in the hands of a monarch, young, honourable, virtuous, and appearing thoroughly English, than a faction governing the land through a packed and corrupt House of Commons? Let him make an end of government by families, choose his own ministers and stand by them, and end once and for all the corruption of political life. But in such a monarchy what was the place for a man like Pitt, who owed nothing to corruption, nothing to the Crown, and everything to the people and to his personal domination of the House of Commons? So long as he was in power he would divide the kingdom with Caesar. He could not help it. His profound reverence for the person and office of George III could not conceal from either of them the fact that Pitt was a very great man and the King a very limited man.
- Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Three: The Age of Revolution, "The First World War", p. 158-159
- The personality of George III was now exercising a preponderant influence upon events. He was one of the most conscientious sovereigns who ever sat upon the English throne. Simple in his tastes and unpretentious in manner, he had the superficial appearance of a typical yeoman. But his mind was Hanoverian, with an infinite capacity for mastering main principles. He possessed great moral courage and an inveterate obstinacy, and his stubbornness lent weight to the stiffening attitude of his Government. His responsibility for the final breach is a high one.
- Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Three: The Age of Revolution (1957), "The Quarrel With America", p. 172
- Not all the Opposition Members were so foolish or extreme, but in the King's mind all were traitors. George III grew stubborn and even more intent. He closed his ears to moderate counsel and refused to admit into his Government those men of both parties who, like many American Loyalists, foresaw and condemned the disasters into which his policy was tottering and were horrified at the civil war between the Mother Country and her colonies. Even Lord North was half-hearted, and only his loyalty to the King and his sincere old-fashioned belief, shared by many politicians of the day, that a Minister's duty was to carry out the personal wishes of the sovereign stopped him from resigning much sooner than he did. Though technically responsible as First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had no grip on the conduct of affairs and allowed the King and the departmental Ministers to control the day-to-day work of government. George III tirelessly struggled to superintend the details of the war organisation, but he was incapable of co-ordinating the activities of his Ministers. These were of poor quality. The Admiralty was headed by Wilke's comrade in debauch, the Earl of Sandwich. His reputation has been mauled, but recent research has shown that at least the Fleet was in much better condition than the Army. Rarely has British strategy fallen into such a multitude of errors. Every maxim and principle of war was either violated or disregarded.
- Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Three: The Age of Revolution (1957), "The Quarrel With America", p. 193
- Caesar had his Brutus, Charles I his Cromwell, and George III may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.
- The United States, for example, has never had a President as bad as George III, but neither has Britain had a king as admirable as George Washington (of whom William Thackeray rightly said that 'his glory will descend to remotest ages' while the memory of the sovereign went the other way). However, George was not too bad. Still, even to concede this obvious argument is to make it plain that a bad monarch is at least as likely as a bad president even given the caprice of random selection by the hereditary principle... We find that the presidency has become too secretive, too powerful, too trammeled, too ceremonial, too impotent or too complicated, depending on the president under discussion or the critic making the analysis. On one thing all are agreed - there is a danger of an 'imperial' or 'monarchical' presidency. An incumbent in Washington knows he is in trouble on the day that cartoonists begin to represent him as a king.
- Christopher Hitchens, The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish (1990), Random House.
- For the most triﬂing reasons, and sometimes for no conceivable reason at all, his majesty has rejected laws of the most salutary tendency. The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in those colonies where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state. But previous to the infranchisement of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude all further importations from Africa. Yet our repeated attempts to effect this by prohibitions, and by imposing duties which might amount to a prohibition, have been hitherto defeated by his majesty's negative: thus preferring the immediate advantages of a few British corsairs to the lasting interests of the American states, and to the rights of human nature deeply wounded by this infamous practice.
- he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it's most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers; is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
- We I hope shall be left free to avail ourselves of the advantages of neutrality: and yet much I fear the English, or rather their stupid king, will force us out of it. (...) Common sense dictates therefore that they should let us remain neuter: ergo they will not let us remain neuter. I never yet found any other general rule for foretelling what they will do, but that of examining what they ought not to do.
- Did the rapid expansion bring a rush of blood to the heads of the British elite? One can put it that way. Certainly, over the next two decades, the characteristic British values of caution, pragmatism, practical common sense and moderation seemed to desert the island race, or at any rate the men in power there. There was arrogance, and arrogance bred mistakes, and obstinacy meant they persisted in to the point of idiocy. The root of the trouble was George III, a young, self-confident, ignorant, opinionated, inflexible, and pertinacious man, determined to be an active king, not just in name, like his grandfather George II, but in reality. George II, however, was a sensible man, well aware of his considerable intellectual and constitutional limitations. He had employed great statesmen, when he could find them, like Sir Robert Walpole and William Pitt the Elder, who had helped make Britain the richest and most successful nation in the world. George III employed second-raters and creatures of his own making, more court-favorites or men whose sole merit was an ability to manage a corrupt House of Commons. From 1763 to 1782, by which time the American colonies had been lost, it would be hard to think of a more dismal succession of nonentities than the men who, as First Lords of the Treasury (Prime Minister), had charge of Britain's affairs—the Earl of Bute, George Grenville, the Marquis of Rockingham, the Duke of Grafton, and Lord North. And behind them, in key jobs, were other boobies like Charles Townshend and Lord George Germaine.
- George III had been twenty-two when, in 1760, he succeeded to the throne, and to a remarkable degree he remained a man of simple tastes and few pretensions. He liked plain food and drank but little, and wine only. Defying fashion, he refused to wear a wig. That the palace at St. James's had become a bit dowdy bothered him not at all. He rather liked it that way. Socially awkward at Court occasions—many found him disappointingly dull—he preferred puttering about his farms at Windsor dressed in farmer's clothes. And in notable contrast to much of fashionable society and the Court, where mistresses and infidelities were not only an accepted part of life, but often flaunted, the King remained steadfastly faithful to his very plain Queen, the German princess Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenberg-Streilitz, with whom he had now produced ten children. (Ultimately there would be fifteen.) Gossips claimed that Farmer George's chief pleasures were a leg of mutton and his plain little wife. But this was hardly fair, Nor was he the unattractive, dim-witted man critics claimed then and afterward. Tall and rather handsome, with clear blue eyes and a generally cheerful expression, George III had a genuine love of music and played both the violin and the piano. (His favorite composer was Handel, but he adored also the music of Bach and in 1764 had taken tremendous delight in hearing the boy Mozart perform on the organ.) He loved architecture and did quite beautiful architectural drawings of his own. With a good eye for art, he had begun early to assemble his own collection, which by now included works by the contemporary Italian painter Canaletto, as well as watercolors and drawings by such old masters such as Poussin and Raphael. He avidly collected books, to the point where he had assembled one of the finest libraries in the world. He adored clocks, ship models, took great interest in things practical, took great interest in astronomy, and founded the Royal Academy of Arts.
- George III, with ten years' experience as king, would have been called a "good guy" if he had lived in the twentieth century. He was more popular in Britain and America than any English monarch since Charles II. Sincerely religious, temperate in food and drink, he had an impeccable private life; he never indulged in the clumsy frolics to which male members of the house of Hanover have been prone. He loved manly sports and country life, rod boldly to hounds and ran his own farm. George was very methodical and conscientious in support of his public business. But of the quality of statesmanship to which kings were supposed to be born, he had none. His object was to substitute national leadership for party government, to rescue the crown from the clutches of leading Whig families, and to be his own prime minister. By 1770 George had got the hand of English politics and had become a manipulator second to none in the kingdom. He spent so much money sustaining Lord North's ministry and supporting "friendly" members of the House of Commons that the palace servants complained of not having enough to eat. In the general election of 1780 George spent the enormous sum of £104,000 to have the "right" people elected, and succeeded. It is not correct to say George III introduced a new system of government, or that he aimed at absolutism. He simply put himself at the head of the old Whig system and used it for what, rightly or wrongly, he believed to be the national interest. After several attempts to find a prime minister who would be responsible to him rather than the House of Commons, he got what he wanted in Lord North — and lost an empire. The other Whig factions did not catch on to what was going on for two or three years. By that time they had persuaded themselves that the King was trying to subvert the British constitution through corruption, and and set up a royal absolutism. This explains why Burke, Pitt, Richmond, and other leading Englishmen backed the colonies against their own government, and encouraged Americans to feel that they were fighting for liberty in England as well as America.
- Samuel Eliot Morrison, The Oxford History of the American People (1965), ISBN 65-12468
- George III felt no prejudice against Americans. If he had the sense to pay them a visit, and had chased foxes in Virginia, shot quail in Carolina, and gone fishing with the Yankees, he might have won their hearts and possibly learned something about colonial quirks.
- Samuel Eliot Morrison, The Oxford History of the American People (1965), ISBN 65-12468
- The British populace at home was not united behind the war because some people doubted its wisdom and justness. One result of the antiwar sentiment was difficulty in recruiting troops, a difficulty aggravated by George III's reluctance to incur the huge expenses necessary to expand the army. To fill the ranks, England hired German soldiers, collectively known as Hessians, and sent almost 30,000 of them to America. But Hessians alone were insufficient, and England also enlisted slaves, mobilized Indians, and depended on Loyalist soldiers. England still suffered manpower shortages, and these expedients were also partially counterproductive. Hiring mercenaries, using slaves, inciting "savages" and fomenting a civil war within a civil war heightened colonial disaffection.
- Allan R. Millett, Peter Maslowski, and William B. Feis, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States From 1607 to 2012 (2012), p. 49
- The majority of men who took up arms during the "popular uprising" phase of the war in 1775-1776 were not fighting for independence, but for their rights as Englishmen within the Empire. Although a growing number believed independence inevitable, most maintained allegiance to George III, who, they assumed, was being misled by corrupt ministers conspiring to enslave the colonies. Congress insisted that the colonies were only protecting themselves form these conspirators, that reconciliation would occur as soon as the King restrained his advisers.
- Allan R. Millett, Peter Maslowski, and William B. Feis, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States From 1607 to 2012 (2012), p. 58
- Namier and his followers have little to say about the American revolutionists but devote themselves to scolding the English Whigs... By the same token the righteousness of the Americans is somewhat diminished through the loss of the principal villain in the contest. George III is no longer the foe of liberty, seeking to subvert the British constitution, but an earnest and responsible monarch, doing his job to the best of his abilities. And those abilities, we are told, while not of the highest order, were not small either. George, in fact, becomes a sympathetic figure, and one can scarcely escape the feeling that the Americans were rather beastly to have made things so hard for him.
- Edmund Morgan, 'The American Revolution: Revisions in Need of Revising', The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 1 (January 1957), pp. 5-6
- His Majesty's character, then, after all the pains which have been taken to make him odious as well as contemptible remains unimpeached; and therefore cannot be in any degree the cause of the present commotions. His whole conduct both in public and private ever since he began his reign, the uniform tenor of his behaviour, the general course both of his words and actions, has been worthy of an Englishman, worthy of a Christian, and worthy of a King.
- John Wesley, Letter to a Friend, on ‘The Present State of Public Affairs’ (December 1768), quoted in John Telford (ed.), The Letters of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M. Vol. V: February 28, 1766, to December 9, 1772 (1960), p. 376
- After 1763 all these efforts became hopelessly entangled in the British government's attempts to reform its awkwardly structured empire and to extract revenue from the colonists. All parts of British policy came together to threaten each colonist's expanding republican expectations of liberty and independence. In the emotionally charged atmosphere of the 1760s and the 1770s, all the imperial efforts at reform seemed to be an evil extension of what was destroying liberty in England itself. Through the manipulation of puppets and placemen in the House of Commons, the crown—since 1760 in the hands of a young new king, George III—was sapping the strength of popular representation in Parliament and unbalancing the English constitution. Events seemed to show that the crown, with the aid of a pliant Parliament, was trying to reach across the Atlantic to corrupt Americans in the same way.
- The Edinburgh Review volumes 126–126. Google Books. Retrieved on February 13, 2020.