GEORGE III’S MINISTERS AND THEIR COLONIAL POLICIES
=Grenville and the War Debt.=—Within a year after the accession of George III, William Pitt was turned out of office, the king treating him with “gross incivility” and the crowds shouting “Pitt forever!” The direction of affairs was entrusted to men enjoying the king’s confidence. Leadership in the House of Commons fell to George Grenville, a grave and laborious man who for years had groaned over the increasing cost of government.
The first task after the conclusion of peace in 1763 was the adjustment of the disordered finances of the kingdom. The debt stood at the highest point in the history of the country. More revenue was absolutely necessary and Grenville began to search for it, turning his attention finally to the American colonies. In this quest he had the aid of a zealous colleague, Charles Townshend, who had long been in public service and was familiar with the difficulties encountered by royal governors in America. These two men, with the support of the entire ministry, inaugurated in February, 1763, “a new system of colonial government. It was announced by authority that there were to be no more requisitions from the king to the colonial assemblies for supplies, but that the colonies were to be taxed instead by act of Parliament. Colonial governors and judges were to be paid by the Crown; they were to be supported by a standing army of twenty regiments; and all the expenses of this force were to be met by parliamentary taxation.”
=Restriction of Paper Money (1763).=—Among the many complaints filed before the board of trade were vigorous protests against the issuance of paper money by the colonial legislatures. The new ministry provided a remedy in the act of 1763, which declared void all colonial laws authorizing paper money or extending the life of outstanding bills. This law was aimed at the “cheap money” which the Americans were fond of making when specie was scarce—money which they tried to force on their English creditors in return for goods and in payment of the interest and principal of debts. Thus the first chapter was written in the long battle over sound money on this continent.
=Limitation on Western Land Sales.=—Later in the same year (1763) George III issued a royal proclamation providing, among other things, for the government of the territory recently acquired by the treaty of Paris from the French. One of the provisions in this royal decree touched frontiersmen to the quick. The contests between the king’s officers and the colonists over the disposition of western lands had been long and sharp. The Americans chafed at restrictions on settlement. The more adventurous were continually moving west and “squatting” on land purchased from the Indians or simply seized without authority. To put an end to this, the king forbade all further purchases from the Indians,