Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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NORTH, Frederick, Earl of Guilford, born in England, 13 April, 1733; died in London, 5 August, 1792. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity college, Cambridge, entered the house of commons as a Tory at an early age, became a lord of the treasury in 1763, and in this year moved the expulsion of John Wilkes. He supported the American stamp-act in 1765, and the right of Great Britain to tax the colonies. He was chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the house of commons in 1767, and first lord of the treasury and prime minister in 1770. His administration extended to March, 1783, and, says a contemporaneous English writer, " teemed with calamitous events beyond any of the same duration to be found in our annals." The American war was its great feature, and North's efforts were principally directed to measures for the coercion of the colonies. He proposed the scheme for enforcing the tea duty in 1773, and the Boston port bill the next year, but, although he did not waver in his opinion as to the right of parliament to tax the colonies, he entertained serious doubts as to the expediency of continuing the war during the last four years of his administration, and was induced to persevere only through regard to the wishes of George III. Being defeated in the house of commons on this question, he resigned, and subsequently joined Fox in opposition to the Shelburne cabinet. In April, 1783, he returned to office as a joint secretary of state with Fox in a coalition ministry that was formed by the Duke of Portland, the unpopularity of which caused its dissolution in the succeeding November. He soon afterward retired from public life. During his last five years he was totally blind. Those who were near Lord North in his old age never heard him murmur at his having become blind; but his wife is the witness that "in the solitude of sleepless nights he would sometimes fall into very low spirits and deeply reproach himself for having, at the earnest desire of the king, remained in administration after he thought that peace ought to have been made with America." Two years before his death he succeeded to the title of Earl of Guilford.
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