British History 2:
From the French Revolution to World War II
Topic: "Majesties and Royal Highnesses"

by Laura Cenicola & Mareike Aumann

5.1) Material for Discussion

Below you can find two caricatures and one newspaper article concerning King George III, which serve as material for discussion. Please look at them - you can click on each of the pictures to enlarge them.

Caricature called "Anti-Saccharrites, -or- John Bull and his Family leaving off the use of Sugar" by James Gillray of King George III and his consort Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (published in 1792):

Question: What is the caricature referring to?

Answer: The caricature refers to the Sugar Act that George III introduced in 1764: Sugar was taxed so that only rich people were able to afford sugar. Although the sales of sugar fell by a third, the trade was profitable for George III.
The picture shows George III and Queen Charlotte, who are drinking tea with sugar in it. In the background several women are sitting and drinking tea as well - but they have a sad facial expression, because they do not have sugar in their tea. George III says: "O delicious! delicious!" and Charlotte says: "O my dear Creatures, do but Taste it! You can't think how nice it is without Sugar:- and then consider how much Work you'll save the poor Blackamoors by leaving off the use of it! 'and above all, remember how much expence it will save your poor Papa! O its charming cooling Drink."
Context of the caricature: The boycott of slave-grown sugar became an important feature of the abolition campaign. Refusing to buy sugar for the home, and preventing its domestic use, emerged as a female contribution to the campaign in the process.
In the cartoon, The Anti-Saccharrites, caricaturist James Gillray ridicules the adoption of the sugar boycott by the Royal household.
King George III, infamous for his meanness, was also opposed to abolition itself, and Gillray's cartoon hints that the king was more interested in saving money than in promoting the abolition of the slave trade.  (Source)



King George III had a mental disease and was thus said to be 'mad'. Look at the following article in order to discover how upset the people must have been because of their 'mad king':

Background information of the happenings the article deals with:
On the 2nd August 1788, King George III, Queen Charlotte, the Princess Royal, the Princesses Augusta and Elizabeth together with the Duke of York had breakfast in the library at Hartlebury Castle. The King had been 'taking the waters' at Cheltenham and the Royal Party had set out from there at 7.00 am, in three coaches, to travel the 33 miles to Hartlebury, arriving at 11.30 am to be greeted at the Great Hall door by the Bishop of Worcester, Richard Hurd. A breakfast of tea, coffee, chocolate, fruit and jellies was set out in the bay window of the library where they were waited upon by the bishop himself.      (Source)



Caricature called "The Hopes of the Party, prior to July 14th - From such Crown & Anchor Wicked Dreams, Good Lord Deliver Us." of George III and several other people by James Gillray (published in 1791):

Question: Try to find out who the people on the picture are. Who are the hanged people in the background? What could be the 'message' of the caricature? And what does the date July 14th refer to?

Answer: On July 14th in 1789 the French revolution began with the storming of the Bastille prison.
This outrageous print would have been inconceivable after Louis XVI was guillotined in January 1793, but in 1791 it reflected a growing tendency to demonize Republican sympathizers, and to suspect Jacobin treachery within the ranks of the Whigs. The setting is the Crown and Anchor tavern on the Strand, where for a time British supporters of the French Revolution gathered to celebrate the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. Radical John Horne Tooke suggestively holds up King George's legs, while playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan steadies the King's head, and fellow Whig Charles James Fox wields an axe, muttering 'what if I should miss my aim'. In the background, Queen Charlotte and Prime Minister William Pitt hang from a lamppost, their bodies twitching in sexual proximity, alluding perhaps to their alleged "special relationship" and collusion during the Regency crisis. While Gillray is directly attacking the Whigs, he also ridicules the King, who does not understand the seriousness of his predicament, and characteristically says, "What! What! What! - what's the matter now." (Source1) (Source2)