William Pitt the younger became prime minister in December 1783, just at the moment when a satisfactory peace had concluded a long and disastrous war. The struggle with the American colonies had left England without allies in Europe. The cause of the revolted patriots had been supported first by France, then by Spain, and lastly by Holland, while the armed neutrality of 1780, originated by Russia perhaps at the instigation of Frederick the Great, had been joined by most of the European powers. This was a direct defiance of the naval supremacy of England, made at a time when the strength of the country was scarcely sufficient to support its claims. When peace was concluded England swept the field of Europe to find an ally.
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