Thursday, 7 June 2012

Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth

Henry Addington was the son Anthony Addington, who was physician to William Pitt, the 1st Earl of Chatham and Prime Minister during the Seven Years War against the French in the 1760s. Young Henry therefore was a childhood friend of William Pitt the Younger, who was to dominate the political landscape during the wars against Napoleon. And this friendship was to later lead Henry to climb to the top of the greasy pole.
In 1784 he became Member of Parliament for Devizes, and within five years Speaker of the House of Commons. in 1801 Pitt the Younger fell out with George III over Catholic emancipation – Pitt wanted it, the King didn't – and so Pitt nominated his childhood friend to take over as Prime Minister. Addington's first task was to negotiate peace with Napoleon - the Treaty of Amiens – which gave him time to recover the country's finances, build a string of defensive towers along the south coast of England and create a large standing army of 600,000 men. Thus emboldened he re-declared war of France. Addington's greatest failure was to cultivate a strong following in Parliament, and when in 1804 Pitt and others decided his time was up, Addington was forced to step down. He instilled more loyalty in the King, however, who created him Viscount Sidmouth and Deputy Ranger of Richmond Park.
He returned to government in 1812, first as Lord President of the Council and later as Home Secretary, where he was tasked with countering sedition in the country.

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