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PITT, William, the Younger.

Autograph letter signed ("W Pitt") to William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland.

Downing Street: 2 November, 1787 Stock Code: 122705
£8,500.00
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Autograph letter signed to Pitt's close advisor William Eden, at the time at the height of his influence as envoy to France, in which Pitt attempts to gauge potential French support for the early Abolitionist movement spearheaded by his friend and political ally, William Wilberforce. "You have had a letter from my friend Wilberforce, on a scheme which may appear to some people chimerical but which I really believe may with proper management be made practicable. If it can, I am sure it is an object well worth attending to and perhaps you may be able to learn the private sentiments of the French Government upon it to Judge whether it can be carried further. I mean the idea of the two nations agreeing to discontinue the villainous traffic now carried on in Africa". 1787 saw the foundation of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and was also the year in which Wilberforce took political leadership of the Abolition movement. Although Pitt's support for the movement to abolish slavery was unflagging throughout his tenure as Prime Minister, the eventual abolition of the trade would not occur until a year after his death, in 1807.

In December 1785 the penal reformer and diplomatist William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland (1744-1814) was sent by Pitt the Younger to serve "as an envoy to negotiate a commercial treaty with France, a task which particularly suited Eden's expertise in matters of finance and commerce. This step inaugurated the most important and successful phase of Eden's career" (ODNB). The skill and delicacy with which he cajoled both Britain and France through the Versailles negotiations eventually resulted in the signing of the final treaty in September 1786, as well as two further commercial agreements between the countries, one to resolve the disputes between the British and French East India companies. However, Eden's peers viewed his successes as proof of his francophile leanings, and he was swiftly reassigned as ambassador to Madrid. "Following the end of his diplomatic career Auckland remained a political figure of some significance. He was still close to Pitt, and his public pronouncements were often regarded as reflecting the thinking of the prime minister Pitt was indeed so close to Auckland and his family at this time that he came very near to marrying Auckland's daughter Eleanor Eden (1777-1851) in 1796-7 only to break off his dalliance suddenly and mysteriously, for reasons which are not fully understood to this day. Although this episode curtailed the social relationship between Auckland and Pitt they remained politically close. In 1798 Auckland was appointed by Pitt to the position of joint postmaster-general and he was one of Pitt's closest advisers on the prospective union with Ireland in the years 1798-1800" (ODNB).

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Description

Single sheet, quarto (239 x 196 mm), hand written in ink across two pages.

Illustrations

Remains of verso guard where laid down overwritten in another hand, annotated at foot of second page in a later hand, "(To Lord Auckland.)" Browned with a few areas of discolouration or marks, tiny wear and puncture to left edge not obscuring text, else i

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