William Pitt

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William Pitt (1759-1806)
Renowned English statesman William Pitt became Chancellor ofthe Exchequer at age 23 and Prime Minister at 24, the youngestever. Not only did Pitt succeed despite his tender years, hisgovernment stayed in power for some 17 years. Among Pitt'sachievements was passage of the India Act of 1784 and union withIreland in 1800. Though Pitt resigned the premiership in 1801 overthe king's failure to approve Pitt's Bill to emancipate theCatholics, he returned some three years later when the threat ofNapoleon began to loom over England. In 1805, the French weredefeated at Trafalgar thanks to the coalition Pitt engineeredbetween England, Russia, Austria, and Sweden. When the coalitionbroke apart, Napoleon triumphed over Russia and Austria atAusterlitz (1805) and Pitt did not live to see Napoleon's ultimatedefeat at Waterloo. Pitt, who never married and was viewed as aloner with no close companions, died in such severe debt that theHouse of Commons paid the £40,000 needed to satisfy Pitt's creditors.