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The Right Honourable
 George Canning


In office
10 April 1827 – 8 August 1827
Monarch George IV
Preceded by The Earl of Liverpool
Succeeded by The Viscount Goderich

In office
10 April 1827 – 8 August 1827
Monarch George IV
Preceded by Frederick John Robinson
Succeeded by John Charles Herries

In office
13 September 1822 – 20 April 1827
Monarch George IV
Preceded by The Marquess of Londonderry
Succeeded by The Viscount Dudley and Ward

In office
25 March 1807 – 11 October 1809
Monarch George III
Preceded by Viscount Howick
Succeeded by The Earl Bathurst

Born 11 April 1770(1770-04-11)
Marylebone, London
Died 8 August 1827 (aged 57)
Chiswick, Middlesex
Political party Tory
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

George Canning (11 April 1770 – 8 August 1827) was a British statesman and politician who served as Foreign Secretary and briefly Prime Minister.

Contents

Early life

Canning was born at his parents' home in Queen Anne Street, Marylebone, London. His father, George Canning, Sr., of Garvagh, County Londonderry, was a gentleman of limited means, a failed wine merchant and lawyer, who renounced his right to inherit the family estate in exchange for payment of his substantial debts. George Sr. eventually abandoned the family and died in poverty on 11 April 1771, his son's first birthday, in London. Canning's mother, Mary Anne Costello, took work as a stage actress, a profession not considered respectable at the time.[citation needed]

Because Canning showed unusual intelligence and promise at an early age, family friends persuaded his uncle, London merchant Stratford Canning (father to the diplomat Stratford Canning), to become his nephew's guardian. George Canning grew up with his cousins at the home of his uncle, who provided him with an income and an education. Stratford Canning's financial support allowed the young Canning to study at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford.[citation needed]

While at school, Canning gained renown for his skill in writing and debate. He struck up friendships with the then-future Lord Liverpool as well as with Granville Leveson-Gower and John Hookham Frere. In 1789 he won a prize for his Latin poem The Pilgrimage to Mecca which he recited in Oxford Theatre. Canning began practising law after receiving his BA from Oxford in the summer of 1791, but he wished to enter politics.[citation needed]

Entry into politics

Stratford Canning was a Whig and would introduce his nephew in the 1780s to prominent Whigs such as Charles James Fox, Edmund Burke, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. George Canning's friendship with Sheridan would last for the remainder of Sheridan's life.

George Canning's impoverished background and limited financial resources, however, made unlikely a bright political future in a Whig party whose political ranks were led mostly by members of the wealthy landed aristocracy in league with the newly rich industrialist classes. Regardless, along with Whigs such as Burke, Canning himself would become considerably more conservative in the early 1790s after witnessing the excessive radicalism of the French Revolution. Henry Brooks Adams wrote, "The political reaction which followed swept the young man to the opposite extreme: and his vehemence for monarchy gave point to a Whig sarcasm, - that men had often been known to turn their coats, but this was the first time that a boy had turned his jacket." Jefferson (Library of America) p. 968.

So when Canning decided to enter politics he sought and received the patronage of the leader of the "Tory" group, William Pitt the Younger. In 1793, thanks to the help of Pitt, Canning became a Member of Parliament for Newtown on the Isle of Wight, a rotten borough. In 1796, he changed seats to a different rotten borough, Wendover in Buckinghamshire. He was elected to represent several constituencies during his parliamentary career.

Political style

Canning rose quickly in British politics as an effective orator and writer. His speeches in Parliament as well as his essays gave the followers of Pitt a rhetorical power they had previously lacked. Canning's skills saw him gain leverage within the Pittite faction that allowed him influence over its policies along with repeated promotions in the Cabinet. Over time, Canning became a prominent public speaker as well, and was one of the first politicians to campaign heavily in the country.

As a result of his charisma and promise, Canning early on drew to himself a circle of supporters who would become known as the Canningites. Conversely though, Canning had a reputation as a divisive man who alienated many.

He was a dominant personality and often risked losing political allies for personal reasons. He once reduced Lord Liverpool to tears with a long satirical poem mocking Liverpool's attachment to his time as a colonel in the militia. He then forced Liverpool to apologise for being upset.[citation needed]

Elevation to office

Statue in Parliament Square, London. Executed by Sir Richard Westmacott, and erected in 1832[1]

On 2 November 1795, Canning received his first ministerial post: Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. In this post he proved a strong supporter of Pitt, often taking his side in disputes with the Foreign Secretary, Lord Grenville. He resigned this post on 1 April 1799.

In 1799 Canning became a commissioner of the Board of Control, followed by Paymaster of the Forces in 1800. When Pitt resigned in 1801, Canning loyally followed him into opposition and again returned to office in 1804 with Pitt, becoming Treasurer of the Navy.

Canning left office with the death of Pitt but was appointed Foreign Secretary in the new government of the Duke of Portland the following year. Given key responsibilities for the country's diplomacy in the Napoleonic Wars, he was responsible for planning the attack on Copenhagen in September 1807, much of which he undertook at his country estate, South Hill Park at Easthampstead in Berkshire. In November 1807, Canning oversaw the Portuguese royal family's flight from Portugal to Brazil.

Duel with Castlereagh

In 1809 Canning entered into a series of disputes within the government that were to become famous. He argued with the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Lord Castlereagh, over the deployment of troops that Canning had promised would be sent to Portugal but which Castlereagh sent to the Netherlands. The government became increasingly paralysed in disputes between the two men. Portland was in deteriorating health and gave no lead, until Canning threatened resignation unless Castlereagh were removed and replaced by Lord Wellesley. Portland secretly agreed to make this change when it would be possible.

Castlereagh discovered the deal in September 1809 and challenged Canning to a duel. Canning accepted the challenge and it was fought on 21 September 1809 on Putney Heath.[2] Canning, who had never before fired a pistol, widely missed his mark. Castlereagh, who was regarded as one of the best shots of his day, wounded his opponent in the thigh. There was much outrage that two cabinet ministers had resorted to such a method. Shortly afterwards the ailing Portland resigned as Prime Minister, and Canning offered himself to George III as a potential successor. However, the King appointed Spencer Perceval instead, and Canning left office once more. He did take consolation, though, in the fact that Castlereagh also stood down.

Return to government

Upon Perceval's assassination in 1812, the new Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, offered Canning the position of Foreign Secretary once more. Canning refused, as he also wished to be Leader of the House of Commons and was reluctant to serve in any government with Castlereagh. In 1814 he became the British Ambassador to Portugal, returning the following year. He received several further offers of office from Liverpool and in 1816 he became President of the Board of Control.

Canning resigned from office once more in 1820, in opposition to the treatment of Queen Caroline, estranged wife of the new King George IV. Canning and Caroline were close friends and may have had a brief sexual affair. This would have been regarded as unacceptable.

Portrait of George Canning by Richard Evans, circa 1825

Another return

In 1822, Castlereagh, now Marquess of Londonderry, committed suicide. Canning succeeded him as both Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons. In his second term of office he sought to prevent South America from coming into the French sphere of influence, and in this he was successful.[citation needed] He also gave support to the growing campaign for the abolition of slavery. Despite personal issues with Castlereagh, he continued many of his foreign policies, such as the view that the powers of Europe (Russia, France, etc.) should not be allowed to meddle in the affairs of other states. This policy enhanced public opinion of Canning as a liberal. He also prevented the United States from opening trade with the West Indies.

Prime Minister

In 1827, Liverpool suffered a severe stroke and was to die the following year. Canning, as Liverpool's right-hand man, was then chosen by George IV to succeed him, in preference to both the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel. Neither man agreed to serve under Canning, and they were followed by five other members of Liverpool's Cabinet as well as 40 junior members of the government. The Tory party was now heavily split between the "High Tories" (or "Ultras", nicknamed after the contemporary party in France) and the moderates supporting Canning, often called "Canningites". As a result Canning found it difficult to form a government and chose to invite a number of Whigs to join his Cabinet, including Lord Lansdowne. The government agreed not to discuss the difficult question of parliamentary reform, which Canning opposed but the Whigs supported.

However, Canning's health by this time was in steep decline. He died on 8 August 1827, in the very same room where Charles James Fox met his own end, 21 years earlier. To this day Canning's total period in office remains the shortest of any Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a mere 119 days. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.[3]

Legacy

Canning has come to be regarded as a "lost leader", with much speculation about what his legacy could have been had he lived. His government of Tories and Whigs continued for a few months under Lord Goderich but fell apart in early 1828. It was succeeded by a government under the Duke of Wellington, which initially included some Canningites but soon became mostly "High Tory" when many of the Canningites drifted over to the Whigs. Wellington's administration would soon go down in defeat as well. Some historians have seen the revival of the Tories from the 1830s onwards, in the form of the Conservative Party, as the overcoming of the divisions of 1827. What would have been the course of events had Canning lived is highly speculative.

To some later Conservatives, most prominently Benjamin Disraeli, Canning came to be regarded as a model and forerunner of One Nation Conservatism, providing a contrast to Sir Robert Peel, whom Disraeli attacked bitterly.

A central square in Athens, Greece is named after Canning (Canning Square (Plateia Kanigos)), in appreciation of his supportive stance toward the Greeks during their War of Independence (1821-1830).

A street in the city of Buenos Aires has been on-and-off named after Canning since 1893, changing away from the name in 1985.

Family

Canning married Joan Scott (later 1st Viscountess Canning) (1776-1837) on 8 July 1800, with John Hookham Frere and William Pitt the Younger as witnesses.

George and Joan Canning had four children:

George Canning's Government, April 1827 - August 1827

Changes

References

  • Dixon, Peter George Canning: Politician and Statesman New York: Mason/Charter, 1976
  • Deane, Ciarán The Guinness Book of Irish Facts & Feats Guinness Publishing 1994 ISBN 0-85112-793-2
  • Hunt, Giles (ed) Mehitabel Canning: A Redoubtable Woman Royston, Herts, England:Rooster Books Limited, 2001 ISBN 1-871510-20-1
  • Hunt, Giles The Duel: Castlereagh, Canning and deadly cabinet rivalry 2008 I B Tauris & Co Ltd, UK/Palgrave Macmillan ISBN 1-84511-593-7

Notes

  1. ^ Westminster: King St, Great George St and the Broad Sanctuary in Old and New London: Volume 4 (1878), pp. 26-35, from British History Online
  2. ^ The Spectator. "Pistols at dawn". http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/575291/pistols-at-dawn.thtml. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  3. ^ George Canning at Find a Grave

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Dudley Ryder
Thomas Steele
Paymaster of the Forces
1800 – 1801
with Thomas Steele
Succeeded by
Thomas Steele
The Lord Glenbervie
Preceded by
George Tierney
Treasurer of the Navy
1804 – 1806
Succeeded by
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Preceded by
Viscount Howick
Foreign Secretary
1807 – 1809
Succeeded by
The Earl Bathurst
Preceded by
The Earl of Buckinghamshire
President of the Board of Control
1816 – 1821
Succeeded by
Charles Bathurst
Preceded by
The Marquess of Londonderry
Foreign Secretary
1822 – 1827
Succeeded by
The Viscount Dudley and Ward
Leader of the House of Commons
1822 – 1827
Succeeded by
William Huskisson
Preceded by
The Earl of Liverpool
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
10 April 1827 – 8 August 1827
Succeeded by
The Viscount Goderich
Preceded by
Frederick John Robinson
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1827
Succeeded by
John Charles Herries
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir John Barrington, Bt
Sir Richard Worsley
Member of Parliament for Newtown (Isle of Wight)
1793 – 1796
With: Sir John Barrington, Bt
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Worsley
Charles Shaw Lefevre
Preceded by
John Barker Church
Hugh Seymour-Conway
Member of Parliament for Wendover
17961801
With: John Hiley Addington
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member of Parliament for Wendover
18011802
With: John Hiley Addington
Succeeded by
Charles Long
John Smith
Preceded by
Arthur Moore
Member of Parliament for Tralee
18021806
Succeeded by
Maurice FitzGerald
Preceded by
Sir Robert Barclay, Bt
James Paull
Member of Parliament for Newtown (Isle of Wight)
18061807
With: Sir Robert Barclay, Bt
Succeeded by
Barrington Pope Blachford
Dudley Long North
Preceded by
Sir William Fowle Middleton, Bt
Sir John Nicholl
Member of Parliament for Hastings
18071812
With: Sir Abraham Hume, Bt
Succeeded by
Sir Abraham Hume, Bt
James Dawkins
Preceded by
Hylton Jolliffe
Booth Grey
Member of Parliament for Petersfield
Oct – Dec 1812
With: Hylton Jolliffe
Succeeded by
Hylton Jolliffe
George Canning
Preceded by
Isaac Gascoyne
Banastre Tarleton
Member of Parliament for Liverpool
1812 – 1823
With: Isaac Gascoyne
Succeeded by
Isaac Gascoyne
William Huskisson
Preceded by
Nicholas Vansittart
Charles Bathurst
Member of Parliament for Harwich
1823 – 1826
With: John Charles Herries
Succeeded by
John Charles Herries
Nicholas Conyngham Tindal
Preceded by
Charles Duncombe
John Stuart
Member of Parliament for Newport (Isle of Wight)
1826 – 1827
With: William Henry John Scott
Succeeded by
William Henry John Scott
Hon. William Lamb
Preceded by
John Fitzgerald
Augustus Frederick Ellis
Member of Parliament for Seaford
April 1827 – September 1827
With: John Fitzgerald
Succeeded by
John Fitzgerald
Augustus Frederick Ellis
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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I can prove anything by statistics except the truth.

George Canning (11 April 17708 August 1827) was a British statesman and politician who served as Foreign Secretary and, briefly, Prime Minister.

Sourced

  • I called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old.
    • The King’s Message, Dec. 12, 1826.
  • I can prove anything by statistics except the truth.
    • As quoted in A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908) edited by Tryon Edwards, p. 587

Unsourced

  • Story! God bless you! I have none to tell, sir.
    • The Friend of Humanity and the Knife-Grinder.
  • I give thee sixpence! I will see thee damned first.
    • The Friend of Humanity and the Knife-Grinder.
  • So down thy hill, romantic Ashbourn, glides
    The Derby dilly, carrying three INSIDES.
    • The Loves of the Triangles, line 178.
  • And finds, with keen, discriminating sight,
    Black ’s not so black,—nor white so very white.
    • New Morality.
  • Give me the avowed, the erect, the manly foe,
    Bold I can meet,—perhaps may turn his blow!
    But of all plagues, good Heaven, thy wrath can send,
    Save, save, oh save me from the candid friend!
    • New Morality. Compare: "Defend me from my friends; I can defend myself from my enemies", attributed to Maréchal Villars, when taking leave of Louis XIV.
  • No, here ’s to the pilot that weathered the storm!
    • The Pilot that weathered the Storm.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GEORGE CANNING (1770-1827), British statesman, was born in London on the i i th of .April 1770. The family was of English origin and had been settled at Bishop's Canynge in Wiltshire. In 1618 a George Canning, son of Richard Canning of Foxcote in Warwickshire, received a grant of the manor of Garvagh in Londonderry, Ireland, from King James I. The father of the statesman, also named George, was the eldest son of Mr Stratford Canning, of Garvagh. He quarrelled with and was disowned by his family. He came to London and led a struggling life, partly in trade and partly in literature. In May 1768 he married Mary Annie Costello, and he died on the i i th of April 1771, exactly one year after the birth of his son. Mrs Canning, who was left destitute, received no help from her husband's family, and went on the stage, where she was not successful. She married a dissolute and brutal actor of the name of Reddish. Her son owed his escape from the miseries of her household to another member of the company, Moody, who wrote to Mr Stratford Canning, a merchant in London and younger brother of the elder George Canning. Moody represented to Mr Stratford Canning that the boy, although full of promise, was on the high road to the gallows under the evil influence of Reddish. Mr Stratford Canning exerted himself on behalf of his nephew. An estate of the value of -L200 a year was settled on the boy, and he was sent in succession to a private school at Hyde, Abbey near Winchester, to Eton in 1781, and to Christchurch, Oxford, in 1787. After leaving Eton and before going to Oxford, he was entered as a student at Lincoln's Inn. At Eton he edited the school magazine, The Microcosm, and at Oxford he took the leading part in the formation of a debating society. He made many friends, and his reputation was already so high that Sheridan referred to him in the House of Commons as a rising hope of the Whigs. According to Lord Holland, he had been noted at Oxford as a furious Jacobin and hater of the aristocracy. In 1792 he came to London to read for the bar. He had taken his B.A. in 1791 and proceeded M.A. on the 6th of July 1794.

Soon after coming to London he became acquainted with Pitt in some uncertain way. The hatred of the aristocracy, for which Lord Holland says he was noted at Oxford, would naturally deter an ambitious young man with his way to make in the world, and with no fixed principles, from attaching his fortune to the Whigs. Canning had the glaring examples of Burke and Sheridan himself to show him that the great "revolution families" - Cavendishes, Russells, Bentincks - who controlled the Whig party, would never allow any man, however able, who did not belong to their connexion, to rise to the first rank. He therefore took his place among the followers of Pitt. It is, however, only fair to note that he always regarded Pitt with strong personal affection, and that he may very naturally have been influenced, as multitudes of other Englishmen were, by the rapid development of the French Revolution from a reforming to an aggressive and conquering force. In a letter to his friend Lord Boringdon (John Parker, afterwards earl of Morley), dated the 13th of December 1792, he explicitly states that this was the case. Enlightened self-interest was doubtless combined with honest conviction in ranking him among the followers of Pitt. By the help of the prime minister he entered parliament for the borough of Newtown in the Isle of Wight in July 1793. His maiden speech, on the subvention to the king of Sardinia, was made on the 3rst of January 1794. It is by some said to have been a failure, but he satisfied himself, and he soon established his place as the most brilliant speaker on the ministerial side. It may be most conveniently noted here, that his political patrons exerted themselves to provide for his private as well as his official prosperity. Their favour helped him to make a lucrative marriage with Miss Joan Scott, who had a fortune of Lioo,000, on the 8th of July 1800. The marriage was a very happy one, though the bulk of the fortune was worn away in the expenses of public and social life. Mrs Canning, who survived her husband for ten years, was created a viscountess in 1828. Four children were born of the marriage - a son who died in his father's lifetime, and was lamented by him in very touching verse; another a captain in the navy, drowned at Madeira in 1827; a third son, Charles, afterwards created Earl Canning; and a daughter Harriet, who married the marquess of Clanricarde in 1825.

The public life of Canning may be divided into four stages. From 1793 to 1801 he was the devoted follower of Pitt, was in minor though important office, and was the wittiest of the defenders of the ministry in parliament and in the press. From 1801 to 1809 he was partly in opposition, partly in office, fighting for the foremost place. Between 1809 and 1822 there was a period of comparative eclipse, during which he was indeed at times in office, but in lesser places than he would have been prepared to accept between 1804 and 1809, and was regarded with general distrust. From 1822 till his death in 1827 he was the most powerful influence in English, and one of the most powerful in European, politics.

In the spring of 1796 he was appointed under-secretary for the foreign office, and in the election of that year he was returned for Wendover. He was also appointed receiver-general of the alienation office, a sinecure post which brought him -C700 a year. His position as under-secretary brought him into close relations with Pitt and the foreign secretary, Lord Grenville (q.v.). During the negotiations for peace at Lille (1797), Canning was actively concerned in the devices which were employed by Pitt and Grenville to keep the real character of the discussion secret from other members of the cabinet. Canning had a taste for mystery and disguises, which he had shown at Oxford, and which did much to gain him his unfortunate reputation for trickery. From the 20th of November 1797, till the 9th of July 1798, he was one of the most active, and was certainly the most witty of the contributors to the Anti-Jacobin, a weekly paper started to ridicule the frothy philanthropic and eleutheromaniac rant of the French republicans, and to denounce their brutal rapacity and cruelty. But Canning's position as under-secretary was not wholly pleasant to him. He disliked his immediate chief Grenville, one of the Whigs who joined Pitt, and a man of thoroughly Whiggish aristocratic insolence, In 1799 he left the foreign office and was named one of the twelve commissioners for India, and in 1800 joint paymaster of the forces, a post which he held till the retirement of Pitt in 1801.

During these years of subordinate activity Canning had established his position as an orator and a wit. His oratory cannot be estimated with absolute confidence. Speeches were then badly reported. The text of his own, published by Therry (6 volumes, London, 1828), were revised by himself, and not for the better. Though his favourite author was Dryden, whose prose is uniformly manly and simple, and though he had a keen eye for faults of taste in the style of others, Canning had himself a leaning to preciosity and tinsel. His wit was, and remains, above all question. In public life it did him some harm in the opinion of serious people, who could not believe that so jocose a politician had solid capacity. It exasperated opponents, some of whom, notably Peter Pindar '(see' Wolcot, John), retaliated by brutal personalities. Canning was constantly reminded that his mother was a strolling actress, and was accused of foisting his pauper family on the public funds. The accusation was perfectly untrue, but this style of political controversy was common, and was adopted by Canning. He put himself on a level with Peter Pindar when he assailed Pitt's successor Addington (see Sidmouth, Viscount) on the ground that he was the son of a doctor.

While out of office with Pitt, Canning proved a somewhat insubordinate follower. The snobbery and malignity of his attacks on Addington roused considerable feeling against him, and his attempts to act as a political go-between in ministerial arrangements were unfortunate. On the formation of Pitt's second ministry he took the post of treasurer of the navy on the 1 2th of May 1804. In office he continued to be insubordinate, and committed mistakes which got him into bad odour as untrustworthy. He endeavoured to persuade Lord Hawkesbury (see Liverpool, Earls Of) to join in a scheme for turning an old friend out of the India Office. Though his relations with Pitt began fo be somewhat strained towards the end, he left office on the minister's death on the 21st of January 1806.

Canning, who delivered the eulogy of Pitt in the House of Commons on the 3rd of February, refused to take office in Fox's ministry of "all the talents." Attempts were made to secure him, and he was offered the leadership of the House of Commons, under the supervision of Fox, an absurd proposal which he had the good sense to decline. After the death of Fox, and the dismissal by the king of Lord Grenville's ministry, he joined the administration of the duke of Portland as secretary of state for foreign affairs. He held the office from the 25th of March 1807 till the 9th of September 1809. During these two years he had a large share in the vigorous policy which defeated the secret articles of the treaty of Tilsit by the seizure of the Danish fleet. As foreign secretary it fell to him to defend the ministry when it was attacked in parliament. He refused to tell how he became aware of the secret articles, and the mystery has never been fully solved. He threw himself eagerly into the prosecution of the war in Spain, yet his tenure of office ended in resignation in circumstances which left him under deep discredit. He became entangled in what can only be called two intrigues. In view of the failing health of the duke of Portland he told his colleague, Spencer Perceval, chancellor of the exchequer, that a new prime minister must be found, that he must be in the House of Commons, that the choice lay between them, adding that he might not be prepared to serve as subordinate. In April of 1809 he had told the duke of Portland that Lord Castlereagh, secretary for the colonies and war, was in his opinion unfit for his post, and must be removed to another office. The duke, a sickly and vacillating man, said nothing to Castlereagh, and took no steps, and Canning did not enlighten his colleague. When he found that no measures were being taken to make a change of office, Canning resigned on the 7th of September. Castlereagh then learnt the truth, and after resigning sent Canning a challenge on the 19th of September. In the duel on Putney Heath which followed Canning was wounded in the thigh. His apologists. have endeavoured to defend him against the charge of double dealing, but there can be no question that Castlereagh had just ground to be angry. Public opinion was strong against Canning, and in the House of Commons he was looked upon with distrust. For twelve years he remained out of office or in inferior places. His ability made it impossible that he should be obscure. In 1810 he was a member of the Bullion Committee, and his speeches on the report showed his mastery of the subject. It was no doubt his reputation for economic knowledge which chiefly recommended him to the electors of Liverpool in 1812. He had been elected for Tralee in 1803, for Newtown (Hants) in 1806 and for Harwich in 1807. But in parliament he had lost all influence, and is described as wandering about neglected and avoided. In 181 2 he committed the serious mistake of accepting a well-paid ornamental mission to Lisbon, which he was about to visit for the health of his eldest son. He remained abroad for eighteen months. In 1816 he submitted to enter office as president of the Board of Control in Lord Liverpool's cabinet, in which Castlereagh, to whom he had now become reconciled, was secretary of state for foreign affairs. In 1820 the resigned his post in order to avoid taking any part in the proceedings against Queen Caroline, the wife of George IV.

Canning's return to great office and influence dates from the suicide of Castlereagh in 1822. He had accepted the governorgeneralship of India, which would have implied his retirement from public life at home, and refused to remain unless he was promised "the whole inheritance" of Castlereagh, - the foreign office and the leadership of the House of Commons. His terms were accepted, and he took office in September 1822. He held the office from that date till April 1827, when he became prime minister in succession to Lord Liverpool, whose health had broken down. Even before this he was the real director of the policy of the cabinet - as Castlereagh had been from 1812 to 1822. It may be noted that he resigned his seat for Liverpool in 1823, and was elected for Harwich, which he left for Newport in 1826. Few English public men have represented so many constituencies.

His fame as a statesman is based mainly on the foreign policy which he pursued in those years - the policy of non-intervention, and of the patronage, if not the actual support, of national and liberal movements in Europe (see the historical articles under Europe, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Greece). To this policy he may be said to have given his name, and he has enjoyed the reputation of having introduced a generous spirit into British politics, and of having undone the work of his predecessor at the foreign office, who was constantly abused as the friend of despotism and of despots. It may well be believed that Canning followed his natural inclinations, and it can be asserted without the possibility of contradiction, if also without possibility of proof, that he had influenced the mind of Castlereagh. Yet the fact remains that when Canning came into office in September 1822, he found the instructions to be given to the representative of the British government at the congress of Verona already drawn up by his predecessor, who had meant to attend the congress himself (see Londonderry, Robert Stewart, 2nd Marquess Of). These instructions were handed on without change by Canning to the duke of Wellington, who went as representative, and they contain all the principles which have been said to have been peculiarly Canning's. Indeed this policy was dictated by the character and position of the British government, and had been followed in the main since the conference of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818. Canning was its orator and minister rather than its originator. Yet his eloquence has associated with his name the responsibility for British policy at the time. No speech of his is perhaps more famous than that in which he claimed the initiative in recognizing the independence of the revolted Spanish colonies in South America in 1823 - "I resolved that, if France had Spain, it should not be Spain with the Indies. I called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old" (December 12, 1826).

When Lord Liverpool was struck down in a fit on the 7th of February 1827, Canning was marked out by position as his only possible successor. He was not indeed accepted by all the party which had followed Liverpool. The duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel and several other members of the ministry, moved perhaps by personal animosity, and certainly by dislike of his known and consistent advocacy of the claims of the Roman Catholics, refused to serve with him. Canning succeeded in constructing a ministry in April - but the hopes and the fears of friends and enemies proved to be equally unfounded. His health had already begun to give way, and broke down altogether under the strain of the effort required to form his ministry. He had caught cold in January at the funeral of the duke of York, and never recovered. He died on the 8th of August 1827, at Chiswick, in the house of the duke of Devonshire, where Fox had died, and in the same room.

See Speeches, with a memoir by R. Therry (London, 1826); A.G. Stapleton, Political Life of Canning, 1822-1827 (2nd ed., London, 1831); Canning and His Times (London, 1859); Lord Dalling and Bulwer, Historical Characters (London, 1868); F. H. Hill, George Canning (London, 1887); Some Political Correspondence of George Canning, ed. E. J. Stapleton (2 vols., 1897); J. A. R. Marriott, George Canning and His Times, a Political Study (London, 1903); W. Alison Phillips, George Canning (London, 1903), with reproductions of contemporary portraits and caricatures; H. W. V. Temperley, George Canning (London, 1905).


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Simple English

The Rt Hon George Canning

In office
10 April 1827 – 8 August 1827
Preceded by The Earl of Liverpool
Succeeded by The Viscount Goderich

In office
31 January 1823 – 20 April 1827
Preceded by Frederick John Robinson
Succeeded by Charles Abbott

Born 11 April 1770
Marylebone, London
Died 8 August 1827
Chiswick, Middlesex
Political party Tory

George Canning (11 April 1770 - 8 August 1827) was a British statesman and politician who served as Foreign Secretary and, briefly, Prime Minister.

Entry into politics

Stratford Canning was a Whig and would introduce his nephew in the 1780s to prominent Whigs such as Charles James Fox, Edmund Burke, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. George Canning's friendship with Sheridan would last for the remainder of Sheridan's life.


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