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How effectively did Pitt deal with the internal problems caused by the French Revolution?

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How effectively did Pitt deal with the internal problems caused by the French Revolution? The French Revolution was generally seen as a good thing in Britain when it first happened. Fox and some of his Whig allies saw it is the beginning of freedom. Supporters of Pitt saw it in a more pragmatic light. The Revolution would be a major distraction for Britain's great rivals. Pitt planned to reduce defence expenditure in February 1792, as he thought the Revolution would keep France far too busy sorting out it's old problems to go to war with Britain. Pitt is quoted as saying, "unquestionably there was never a time in the history of this country, when, from the situation in Europe, we might more reasonably expect fifteen years of peace than at the present moment." However, despite these predictions, the French Revolution did cause problems, both internally and externally. It has been argued by historians that Pitt dealt with these internal problems effectively. ...read more.


Pitt also dealt with the problem of radicalism with propaganda. The propaganda was published to make the radicals look like dangerous and untrustworthy people. The most successful piece of anti-radical propaganda was Hannah More's Cheap Repository Tracts, which sold around 2 million copies, compared to Thomas Paine's pro-radical book, The Rights of Man, which sold 200,000 copies. The theme of the anti-radical propaganda was patriotism. It was said that if you believed in the French Revolutionary ideas, then you were agreeing with one of Britain's biggest enemies, and you were not supporting your country. This meant that radicals were very much in the minority Another internal problem was the split in the Whig party, as some believed that radical reform should be copied from France, and some did not. Fox, Grey, Sheridan and Whitbread were all included in the smaller, former group, and Portland, Loughborough, Windham and Burke in the larger, latter group. Pitt created a coalition with Portland, and 6 of the 13 Cabinet posts went to the Whigs. ...read more.


However, the problem with this theory is that it is hypothetical, as these things did not happen, so we can only guess. There is a certain amount of debate as to whether there were any real internal problems in Britain because of the French Revolution. Some historians have argued that the radicalism in British society was already there, the French Revolution just made it recognised as a potential threat. Also, it has been argued that there was no real threat of revolution in Britain. Radical groups were looking more for reform of the political system rather than revolution, as most of the groups rejected violence or conspiracy as methods of achieving their aim of constitutional reform. To conclude, I think that Pitt dealt with the internal problems caused by the French Revolution fairly effectively, however I think it is worth noting that some of the problems were already present before the French Revolution, they were just accelerated or enlarged because of it. Jonathan Lynch ...read more.

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