Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Pitt, William

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Appletons' Pitt William.jpg
Appletons' Pitt William signature.png

PITT, William, English statesman, b. in Hayes, Kent, 28 May, 1759; d. in Putney, Surrey, 23 Jan., 1806. He was the second son of the Earl of Chatham (q. v.), and was educated at Cambridge. His entire training was directed toward making him a parliamentary orator. He studied law at Lincoln's Inn, and in 1780 became a member of parliament for the borough of Appleby. His first speech, on 26 Feb., 1781, was in favor of Edmund Burke's plan of economical reform, and made a great impression. When explaining the principles and conduct of his father on American affairs, and referring to Lord Westcote, he said: “A noble lord has called the American war a holy war. I affirm that it is a most accursed war, wicked, barbarous, cruel, and unnatural; conceived in injustice, it was brought forth and nurtured in folly; its footsteps are marked with slaughter and devastation, while it meditates destruction to the miserable people who are the devoted objects of the resentments which produced it. Where is the Englishman who can refrain from weeping on whatever side victory may be declared?” The voice was listened to as that of Chatham “again living in his son with all his virtues and all his talents.” In the next session Pitt distinguished himself more brilliantly, and on the rise of the Rockingham ministry he was offered the office of vice-treasurer of Ireland, which he declined. At the age of twenty-three he was the only member of his party in the house of commons that had the courage and eloquence to confront Burke, Fox, and the other great orators of the opposition. He became chancellor of the exchequer, and in 1783 prime minister. He secured the passage of important bills, and negotiated the treaty of peace with the United States, but enforced the navigation acts of England against America with much severity. Owing to current events, his ministry became enfeebled, and yet, notwithstanding his failure in foreign expeditions, Pitt's extraordinary genius as a parliamentary leader gave him absolute control of the house of commons and overcame opposition. He resigned his office in March, 1801, and lived in retirement. In May, 1803, when the ambitious designs of Napoleon forced England to break the peace of Amiens, he appeared in parliament to deliver a speech in favor of the war. In the next year he was recalled to the ministry. He became ill with anxiety and grief at the success of Napoleon, and the surrender of the Austrian army at Ulm gave him a shock from which he never recovered. He died soon after hearing of the battle of Austerlitz, 2 Dec., 1805. Parliament gave him the honor of a public funeral, and buried him near his father's remains in Westminster abbey. See “Life of William Pitt,” by Lord Stanhope (4 vols.), and also that by Lord Rosebery (1891).

PITTENGER, William, soldier, b. in Knoxville. Jefferson co., Ohio, 31 Jan., 1840. He studied in the county schools until he had reached the age of sixteen, and enlisted as a private in the 2d Ohio volunteer infantry on 17 April, 1861. He served in the battle of Bull Run, and took part in the noted Andrews railroad raid which began on 7 April, 1862. He escaped execution as a spy, was imprisoned until 18 March, 1863, received a medal of honor, was promoted lieutenant, and returned to the army, in which he served until impaired health forced him to resign in August, 1863. In 1804 he entered the Pittsburg conference of the Methodist Episcopal church, and in 1870 was transferred to the New Jersey conference, in which he now (1888) labors. Since 1878 he has been a professor in the National school of elocution and oratory in Philadelphia. He is the author of Daring and Suffering, a History of the Great Railroad Adventurers " (Philadelphia. 1863 ; enlarged ed.. New York, 1887) ; " Oratory. Sacred and Secular " (Philadelphia, 1881); and "'Extempore Speech" (1SS2).

PITTS, Edmund Levi, lawyer, b. in Yates, N. Y., 23 May, 1839; d. in Medina. X. Y., 11 July, 1898. After receiving an education he was graduated at the State and national law-school in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., in 1860. He was a member of the assembly from 1864 till 1868, its speaker in 1867, and from 1869 till 1873 was U. S. assessor of internal revenue. He was a state senator from 1880 till 1887, serving as presidentprotemporein 1886-'7.

PITTS, John, merchant, b. in England in 1668. His father, Baruth Pitts, was mayor of Lyme Regis, England. The son emigrated to Boston in 1694, became a merchant, and held several offices under the city. Smibert painted portraits of him and his wife. — His son,

Appletons' Pitts John - James.jpg
Appletons' Pitts John - James signature.png

James, b. in Boston in 1712; d. in 1776, was graduated at Harvard in 1731, and succeeded to his father's business and fortune. He married Elizabeth Bowdoin, sister of Gov. James Bowdoin, in 1732, and was a member of the king's council from 1766 till 1775. On the death of Gov. Bowdoin, Mr. Pitts became his executor. He and his wife and their six sons took an active part in the Revolution. His house, which stood on the spot that is now occupied by the Howard athenæum, was a resort of the Adamses and other patriots. In 1770, with Royal Tyler and Samuel Dexter, he was instrumental in persuading Gov. Hutchinson to comply with the popular demand for the removal of the troops from Boston. He was for many years treasurer of the Society for