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Prelude to Disaster

George III and the Origins of the American Revolution, 1751–1763


John L. Bullion

Prelude to Disaster is the most comprehensive account of the fateful decision to tax American colonists. Unlike other studies, it emphasizes the central role of the young George III in the process. Central to this examination are George’s principles of statecraft and government, his thoughts on pre- and post-war empires, his assessments of future relations with Britain’s great antagonist France, his personality and its development before and after his accession to the throne, his friendship with the earl of Bute, and his attitudes toward domestic policies and politicians, especially George Grenville.

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Chapter 18. The King and His Army: September 1762–March 1763


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George III’s grandfather and his uncle had commanded British armies in the field during wars and the Scottish rebellion. Lord Hervey, who knew George II well, had trouble telling whether he loved armies or money more, for “he could never have enough of either, and could seldom be persuaded to part with either, though he had more of both than he had any occasion to employ.” The duke of Cumberland carried on the family tradition. Horace Walpole noted, “Poor boy! He is most Brunswickly happy with all his drums and trumpets.”1 Frederick had chafed at being kept by George II away from the army and command during national emergencies. George III had fervently petitioned for his grandfather’s permission to serve during the Seven Years War, and bitterly resented the decision to keep him “immur’d at home like a girl and a brother younger than me allow’d to go in quest of the enemy” during the conflict.2 Given the significance of the army to Hanoverian males and his own youthful identification of service in it as the duty of “my birth and station” and proof “I am neither unworthy of my high situation, nor of the blood that fills my veins,” George III’s determination to play the leading part in creating an army that would not cost too much and still be capable of defending nation and empire was inevitable.3 ← 297 | 298...

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