The New Student's Reference Work/Walpole, Sir Robert

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Walpole, Sir Robert, Earl of Orford, an English statesman, was born at Houghton in Norfolk, England, Aug. 26, 1676. He studied at Eton and Cambridge. Entering Parliament in 1701, he became secretary of war in 1707 and treasurer of the navy in 1709. He defended the Whig party both with voice and pen, and his political enemies brought against him a charge of corruption, for which he was expelled from the house of commons and imprisoned in the Tower. With the accession of George I he became in succession privy councilor, chancellor of the exchequer and first lord of the treasury. Jealousy among the Whigs and the opposition of the German favorites of the king compelled Walpole's resignation in 1717, but in 1721 he was again called to power, and remained prime minister of England until 1742. His policy was to maintain peace abroad and quiet at home, and during his administration the country was very prosperous. The difficulties between King George II and the Prince of Wales led to his resignation, when he was made Earl of Orford. Charges of bribery were brought against him, but failed to be supported, though he doubless did not scruple to gain his ends by this means. He died in 1745. See Cox's Life and Administration of Sir Robert Walpole.