First Earl of Chatham~William Pitt
[LOUD KNOCKS on entrance door! Sound effect of low pitch tone to high pitch squeal. Time Machine entrance from almost lame (gout induced) crawl to upright stance. Facial Look-WHERE AM I ?!?!!? Puzzled ! ]
[SHAKE HEAD to “SNAP OUT OF IT”. Finally notice the audience] Oh. Hello honored Courtroom guests. I am William Pitt, the FIRST Earl of Chatham. I’ve traveled in a time machine to get here today and must say I am puzzled by many things that I see here. [HOLD UP Cellphone. WHAT IS IT ??? LOOK ] I was born on November 15, 1708 — 311 years ago.
Many people called me William the Elder because my second son- also named William Pitt- became very famous too. He was called William Pitt the Younger and was born when I was 51 years old in 1759! How I became the FIRST Earl of Chatham is an interesting story and I’m proud to talk about why a lot of people called me “The Great Commoner”. I was admired for my willingness to speak up for the common person, for people that maybe were not rich but who still deserved to be listened to. Rich people sometimes forget about that.
I grew up in a wealthy family and my grandfather, Thomas Pitt, worked for the East India Company [LOOK OVER GLASSES]-until they had him arrested! Thomas bought a HUGE Diamond (410 carats when rough!) and I still have the published letter that he wrote to the London Daily Post in 1702 to stop the awful rumors that he stole it. A slave in India, working in a mine, found the diamond first and tried to hide it for himself. An English sea Captain stole it from the slave! I could talk all morning about the Pitt Diamond and how it became a very, very valuable piece of jewelry in France. A LOT of famous people wore it…[PAUSE-LOOK OVER GLASSES] for awhile… and some say it is cursed. Still, they called it the Pitt Diamond and later on – the Regent Diamond and if you COULD buy it in a jewelry store today, you’d have to pay about $75 million dollars for it!
When our father died, my older brother was given the family fortune, which maybe sounds unfair in this present time but was just how things were done back then in England. I had to figure out what to do with my life and became almost like a son to a man named Lord Cobham. He bought me a commission in the Regiment of Horse, the Cavalry, when I was 23 years old. SO, I was in the military when my older brother offered to give me an extra seat in Parliament that family prestige had earned us.
King George II ruled the Kingdom of Great Britain then. According to the laws of our constitutional monarchy, the King had to say, “May I”, to wealthy members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. “House” was what they called each governmental assembly where men talked and argued about all kinds of important things necessary for running what is still called the Parliament today.
Anyway, there were 558 of us! Imagine trying to get 558 men to agree on anything together except maybe the need to breathe! We voted on many things that needed to get done BUT the House of Lord members always had the final say. House of Lord members were extra special p since they were appointed by a King, the present one or a past one. This could be good luck or bad. Don’t ask me what happened to King Charles 1st and some of his Lords, for example. He tried to get RID of Parliament and let’s just say that plan didn’t work out too well. It didn’t help that he married a Catholic Princess from France either!
I was not a quiet member of the House of Commons. I was the VOICE of ENGLAND during that chaotic time. England and France were enemies because the French were forever trying to steal the King’s territory in places like Hanover, Germany but even bolder, in the Colonies of America before it became what you now call the “United States”. I became the War Minister, in charge of the military because, as I said then, “I am sure I can save this country and nobody else can!” France was our enemy in the Seven Years’ War going on in Europe and was fighting British troops across this very land during what became called, “The French and Indian War.” France was trying to hoard land all the way from Canada, south to the Carolinas and asked native people that already lived here (and really knew their way around the deep woods) to help them. Everyone called them “Indians” and the Indians knew where to hunt for food and FIGHT hard besides.
Officers in the British military bought their Officer rank and too many of them were just NOT good leaders in battle. I changed that by choosing good Generals and Admirals myself. We WON THE WAR and when it was all over, England controlled all land east of the Mississippi! I should have been loved by everyone when we beat the French back but that isn’t how it worked out for my lovely wife and I.
I stood up for the Colonists in America and loudly argued that England was NOT representing the Colonies. It was a scandal NO Brit would EVER tolerate if the circumstances were reversed. But nobody cared in Parliament. The wars had unfortunately bankrupted us and that’s why the Colonies were taxed so harshly. I said that it wasn’t fair every chance I got.
The Stamp Act was imposed on the Colonies and Great Britain taxed everything printed: including newspapers, pamphlets, commercial and legal papers, almanacs, playing CARDS and even DICE! Well, the Colonists refused to buy the Stamps and even burned them if the Stamp Distributor’s back was turned. Imagine having to pay EXTRA money to read something you already paid plenty to read!!!
Despite the many difficult things that I helped England survive when she was in such grave trouble, rude criticisms and resentments poked at my endless pain and worry. I was never a shaved “Roundhead” during my time in the House of Commons and don’t understand why so many people were mad when I eventually chose the secondary post of Lord Privy Seal. I proudly wore this horsehair wig [STROKE HORSE HAIR WIG] that members of the House of Lords were allowed to wear as a sign of great nobility.
The Colonists stopped buying things sent to America from England by ship. It was no surprise to me when very angry Colonists decided to have a “BOSTON TEA PARTY” when I was 65 years old in 1773. The “PATRIOTS” knew that I was trying to help them in the Parliament of England. This town was named “Pitts-borough” by the Colonists to honor what I, and my second son William the Younger, did for America. Neither of us were ever able to actually visit here but there are many important places in the USA with “Pitt” or “Chatham” named after us!
I wish that I could say that I was just as popular in England as I was in the Colonies. When I resigned from Office in 1761, people got angry at my wife Hester. In appreciation of her steady devotions, she was also given a noble title and money for us both to live on yet people made fun of her by calling her, “Lady Cheat’em” (instead of Lady Chatham). They even made an effigy of me and burned it in the street!
I became very sick and weak as I grew older. Gout is an awful disease and it seemed like every male in the Pitt family had it. It is extremely painful and all my joints; knees, ankles, elbows, thumbs, and big toes ached awfully. I died when I was 70.