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cans. After the war we do not often hear of them, although we know that expensive public works were occasionally let.
In order to form an estimate of the amount involved in the annual operations of these firms we must try to determine what part of the annual budget passed through their hands in dues and contracts. In the year 63 B. C. we hear that the treasury had an income of about $10,000,000. In 150 B. C. we may fairly estimate it at half of that or less, since the state had not then acquired its most profitable provinces of Asia and Africa nor the tribute of several Greek cities which became stipendiary during the Mithradatic War. Of this hypothetical $5,000,000, the Roman publicans did not collect half, for the Spanish, the Sardinian, and the Macedonian stipends were paid directly, while the Sicilian tithes were still gathered by native collectors. There probably passed through the hands of the publicans at this time in port and pasture dues, fishing licenses, and occasional mining contracts an average of about $2,000,000 per annum. Furthermore some of the firms also engaged in public works, road-building, the construction of walls, sewers, aqueducts, and the like. For such matters the senate of the second century usually appropriated a fifth or a tenth of the year's income, that is, from $500,000 to $1,000,000. In the rest of the expenditurepractically all for military purposes-the publicans seldom had any share, for the military questor usually managed the finances of the army, receiving the requisite appropriation directly from the treasury.
We may safely conclude therefore that the annual sum in the hands of the publicani both for collections and contracts did not on the average exceed $4,000,000. What profits could be made from this sum that they should influence the state's policies? If we estimate18 that there were about 20,000 equites in the year 150, with an average census of $20,000 each-a low estimate-we have a private
46 This figure is assured by a combination of Plutarch, Pompey, 45, and Cicero, Pro Sestio, 55. Ptolemy's income from Egypt about the same time was about three-fourths this sum (Diodorus, XVII. 52). For the sake of comparison we may note that the Gallic tribute was about $2,000,000 under Augustus, that of Asia about $1,500,000 under Hadrian. Sicily's tithe in 70 B. C. was worth about $450,000, if we accept from Cicero, Verr., III. 163, the average price of three sesterces per modius of wheat or about sixty cents per bushel.
48 The knight's minimum census was doubtless lower in 150 than the 400,000 HS. required by law in the first century. But our estimate is hardly too high for an average. Crassus, the consul of 130, considered the richest man of his day, was worth 100,000,000 HS. I have also estimated the number of knights. In the census of 234, there were 19,000 Roman knights in a citizen-population of 270,000. Since the citizen-census of 153 showed a population of 324,000, our number is probably fair.
capital of $400,000,000 in the hands of the equites alone. In other words, the public contracts at that time involved only one per cent. of the possessions of the equites. Probably ninety-nine per cent. was invested in Italian land. The total area of Roman lands at this time was about 14,000,000 acres, which at the average price of unimproved lands given by Columella (fifty dollars per jugera) would mean a thousand million dollars in soil value alone. It must be evident that throughout the middle of the century the one all-absorbing field for investment was Italian land and that in proportion to the amount devoted to this field the capital engaged in state contracts before the Gracchan legislation was insignificant. Had the tax-farming firms been looking for a more extended field of operation, they could readily have competed for the collection of Sicilian tithes, and the slight inconvenience of employing an agent in Sicily would scarcely have deterred them from doing so if they had been very eager for such state contracts. We must conclude therefore that before the Gracchan period the equites were hardly so deeply involved in public finances as to be seriously concerned about the problem of territorial expansion. The attempt so persistently made to explain second-century wars by reference to the supposed machinations of the knights has no foundation in our sources or in any accurate understanding of the knights' position in the economic world of that day.
It cannot be denied, however, that the knights did become a strong political power in the first century, and it was the Gracchan revenue law of 123 which opened the way for their ultimate high position. This law gave them contracts which at once doubled the amount of their operations for the state. But what benefitted them even more were the incidental profits derived from these new contracts. After collecting the Asiatic grain, for example, they could hold it for winter prices and thus double their gains. They could carry the taxes of delinquent cities at usurious rates of interest. Individuals engaged in these operations in Asia found rich opportunities for investing in lands and industries. And the lessons they learned in Asia they applied elsewhere. Not only did they now enter the Sicilian field of tithe-gathering, but individual investors connected with the public firms overran all the provinces in search of bargains and profits. Furthermore, Gracchus had given dignity
"Columella, III. 3. Land was doubtless cheaper in 150 B. C., especially since so much colonization had recently taken place then. Some of the Roman land was of course not arable, yet on the whole it included the choicest parts of Italy. The estimate may go for what it is worth. Columella, at any rate, doubles the value when the land is planted with vines.
to the firms by bestowing political privileges upon the class as a whole. Henceforth the economic interests of the firms found a respectable champion in a compact, ennobled body that occupied a definite place in the state's machinery. Within a few years the voice of the knights can be heard favoring the suppression of devastating wars. In the days of Pompey, they even went one step farther. Then they demanded that the Great General be put in charge of the eastern war because they had reason to believe that he favored the forcible annexation of Syria and would be willing to expose it to the tender mercies of the lucrative contract system.
WILLIAM PITT AND WESTMINSTER ELECTIONS
THE part which William Pitt played in the Westminster elections of 1784 and 1788 is of special interest and significance in any attempt to explain his political methods. Yet the election of 1788 is overlooked entirely by almost every writer on Pitt's life, and scarcely any two writers agree in their accounts of the election of 1784. The city and liberties of Westminster occupied a unique place among eighteenth-century English parliamentary constituencies, since every male "inhabitant householder" had a right to vote for members of Parliament. In the shires the suffrage was limited to the fortyshilling freeholders. While scarcely any two boroughs prescribed the same qualifications for suffrage, perhaps in none of them, and certainly in none of considerable size, was such a large proportion of the population permitted to vote as in Westminster. There was, therefore, a better opportunity to secure a genuine expression of the popular will in an election in Westminster than in any other constituency in the kingdom. It is true that several of the large ducal houses with the support of the royal influence were for a long time able to control the votes of a majority of the electors even in the capital city. But in 1780, under the leadership of Charles James Fox, the Whigs were able to overcome this influence, and the Whig orator sat in Parliament as one of the representatives for Westminster from that date till his death.
The story of the political developments in England in the closing months of 1783 and the first six months of 1784 has been told many times, and this is not the place to repeat such familiar facts. Nevertheless, a brief statement of the conditions existing at the time of the general election of 1784 is necessary in order to make clear the significance of the events that took place in Westminster in April and May of that year. Lord North, a minister after the king's own heart, resigned his position soon after the news of the surrender of Cornwallis reached England and was succeeded by a Whig ministry under the leadership of the Marquis of Rockingham. George III., however, was able to retain the services of his lord chancellor, Thurlow, and the presence of this master of intrigue along with the Chathamite leader, Lord Shelburne, in the cabinet made it extremely unlikely that the new administration could long survive. Even before the death of Rockingham in 1782 Fox had determined to resign the foreign portfolio because of a disagreement with Shel
burne, and the latter was now made prime minister. Other Whigs followed Fox out of the cabinet, and the government was left in the hands of the king's friends and the remnant of the Chathamites. The young William Pitt was called to the cabinet as a prominent member of the latter party. Fox and North soon afterward joined forces for the avowed purpose of seeking to restrict the prerogatives and powers of the king. The Shelburne administration was unable to stand against so formidable a combination of parties, and the coalition came into power under the nominal leadership of the Duke of Portland but under the real leadership of Fox. George III. made no attempt to conceal his dislike of these ministers, and immediately began to devise schemes to drive them from office. In fact, before he turned the government over to the Whigs he had tried to induce Pitt to form an administration regardless of the parliamentary situation. Pitt thought it wiser to bide his time, however, and George was obliged to submit to a few months of Whig rule. But when Fox brought forward his bill for the reform of the East India Company in the autumn session of 1783 Pitt finally agreed to accept the reins of government. Everybody knows the story of his parliamentary battles with Fox during the subsequent months until he finally dissolved Parliament in March, 1784. In the new House of Commons which resulted he had a dependable majority in his favor.
This article is an attempt to throw new light on the means by which the overwhelming majority in favor of Fox and North in the Parliament of 1783 was transformed into a safe working majority for Pitt in the new House. Usually this change is interpreted as merely the reflection of a radical change in the opinions of the English people. We are told that George III., Pitt, and the House of Lords, in rejecting Fox's India bill and turning the coalition out of office, had acted in accordance with the wishes of a majority of Englishmen, and the political complexion of the new House of Commons is cited as evidence of this fact. Pitt is represented as a champion of reform carried into power by a frenzied wave of popular hostility to the coalition and approval of his policies. This is the view set forth by almost every recent writer from Lecky to Dr. John Holland Rose. Nevertheless there are several questions which call for consideration before we can accept their explanations beyond the peradventure of a doubt.
For example, Pitt was ready in November to undertake a task which he had declined in March because it was seemingly hopeless.
1 See the king's letters to Pitt in Chatham MSS., 103. manuscripts are preserved in the British Public Record Office. here refer to the numbers of the bundles.
These well-known The citations given