On March 25, 1761, King George III appointed Lord Bute, John Stuart, as Secretary of State for the Northern Department.
Secretaries of State
The Secretaries of State were senior members of the King’s Council and were appointed by the King. The Secretaries were responsible for managing foreign affairs. They had a significant influence on colonial policies, which were usually enacted in the name of the King.
Influence of Lord Bute on George III
In 1745, Lord Bute moved to London. It was there that he met Frederick, the Prince of Wales, and the two became friends.
Unfortunately, Frederick died a few years later, in 1751. It was at that time Lord Bute began tutoring Frederick’s son, George, and was responsible for preparing the boy for his role as King.
The things Lord Bute taught George rose concerns in Parliament. In 1752, Horace Walpole and other Whig leaders tried to have Bute removed from the position, but were unsuccessful.
Lord Bute Rises in the George III’s Government
George ascended the throne on October 25, 1760, and became George III.
Two days later, on October 27, he appointed Lord Bute to the Privy Council. Within five months, Bute moved up in the government when he was named Secretary of State for the Northern Department.
Conflict with Other Cabinet Members
Lord Bute clashed with William Pitt the Elder, who was Prime Minister, over various policies. Pitt resigned his office on October 5, 1761.
The Duke of Newcastle replaced Pitt but resigned on May 26, 1762, over differences with George III and Bute on policies related to Prussia.
Lord Bute as Prime Minister
On May 27, 1762, George III appointed Lord Bute as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury. The move was controversial and heavily criticized in the press.
Treaty of Paris (1763)
The Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years War and was negotiated by Lord Bute. Although the treaty was favorable to Britain, but heavily criticized by opponents, including William Pitt the Younger and writer John Wilkes.
Bute Proposes Taxes On the Colonies
In the Treaty of Paris, France ceded most of New France to Britain. In order to protect the new western frontier of the British colonies in North America, Bute proposed a new standing army to be stationed on the frontier. He recommended taxing the American colonists to help cover part of the cost of the new army.
Lord Bute’s Influence Ends
On April 8, 1763, Lord Bute resigned from his various offices, although he did remain as a member of the House of Lords.
Significance of Lord Bute as Prime Minister
George Grenville replaced Lord Bute as Prime Minister. Grenville moved forward with the idea of taxing the American Colonies to help pay for the expenses incurred by the French and Indian War. The Sugar Act and the Stamp Act were enacted and met with significant opposition in the colonies, especially Massachusetts.