George Iii: The Last King Of America (Budget Box)

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King George III assumed the throne in 1760 and ruled for 59 years—at the
time, the longest reign of a British monarch. Unlike his father and
grandfather, who hailed from the Electorate of Hanover, he was born and
bred in Britain, and was a native speaker of English. He presided over
victories in the Seven Years’ War and the Napoleonic War, which made him
generally popular with his subjects.

This popularity did not extend to the American colonies. The Founding
Fathers viewed him as a tyrant. It was the obdurate policies of George III—
as well as his reactionary Prime Minister, Lord North—that compelled the
colonies to declare their independence. As Thomas Jefferson wrote on
July 4, 1776, in the eponymous Declaration, George III ”has plundered our
seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our
people“ and intended to finish ”the works of death, desolation and
tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty & perfidy scarcely
paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a
civilized nation.“

After losing the colonies, George III contemplated abdication, but decided
against it. He famously went mad—for a few months in 1778 and 1804, and
then for the last ten years of his life. When he died in 1820, he was blind,
deaf, and insane. The cause of his malady remains a mystery.–This copper half-penny, KM-662, was issued in 1806 and 1807,after George III had suffered through his first two bouts of insanity. It features the king’s portrait on the obverse, and on the reverse, Britannia.

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