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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 9 (February 25, 1927)

George Iii. — 1760–1820

George Iii.

Through the energy and foresight of Pitt, Britain had become the first nation of the world.

The loss of the American colonies due to the imposition of taxes without the consent of the colonists was a noteworthy event of this reign. Representatives of the various American States drew up and passed the “Declaration of Independence,” which, after much fighting, the Motherland was compelled to accept.

In consequence of the alliance of France with the United States, England in 1778 renewed war with France.

To prevent England from searching vessels for goods belonging to an enemy, Russia, Sweden and Denmark entered into an alliance. Later Prussia, Holland, France and Spain joined the League. Britain stood alone, opposed by all Europe.

Rodney won two notable naval battles—one over the Spanish off Cape St. Vincent, the other over the French off St. Lucia in the West Indies—thus greatly assisting in bringing about peace.

King George Iii.

King George Iii.

page 44

Again in 1793, following the French Revolution, considered to be the greatest event of the 18th century, Britain, on account of a decree of the French Convention offering help to all countries desirous of overthrowing their Kings, declared war on France. The Dutch joined the French, and the Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, and Malacca were seized by the English. Spain opposed Britain, but at the naval battle of Cape St. Vincent, Admiral Sir John Jervis and Commodore Nelson inflicted a crushing defeat on the Spanish. By three smashing naval victories—at Camperdown (1797), the Nile (1798), and Trafalgar (1805)— Nelson shattered Napoleon's hopes of successfully invading England.

Queen Victoria in 1842.

Queen Victoria in 1842.

Napoleon declared Britain to be in a state of blockade and forbade trade with her. This fact together with the seizure by Napoleon of the Crown of Spain for his brother led to the Peninsular War, which Sir John Moore, Sir Hugh Dalrymple and Sir Arthur Wellesley in turn so successfully conducted. Napoleon was forced to abdicate and retired to Elba. He returned, however, his friends gathered round him and for the first time Wellesley, now Wellington, and Napoleon met in battle at Waterloo. Wellington won the day, and the end of Napoleon's brilliant career was at hand.

After twenty-two years' war forty years of peace followed. In 1801 the Act for the Union of Great Britain and Ireland was passed. Its main provisions were (1) [gap — reason: Page torn text illegible] should be one Parliament for the United Kingdom and, in that Parliament, Ireland should be represented by four bishops, 28 temporal peers and 100 commoners; (2) that free trade should be established between the two countries.

Through the efforts of several reformers, among whom Wilberforce and Thurlow were prominent, the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was passed by Parliament in 1807. It was not until 1833 that slavery in all British Dominions was abolished.

Two other memorable events were the use of gas for street lighting and the launching on the Clyde of the “Comet,” a steam vessel built by Henry Bell.

Geogre Iii. was a good man and a wise King. On coming to the throne he declared that he “gloried in the name of Briton,” and his highest object in life was to improve the land over which he had the honour to rule.