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The captivating story of two British brothers whose attempts to reform an empire helped to incite rebellion and revolution in America and insurgency and reform in Ireland
Patrick Griffin chronicles the attempts of brothers Charles and George Townshend to control the forces of history in the heady days after Britain’s mythic victory over France in the mid-eighteenth century, and the historic and unintended consequences of their efforts. As British chancellor of the exchequer in 1767, Charles Townshend instituted fiscal policy that served as a catalyst for American rebellion against the Crown, while his brother George’s actions at the same moment as lord lieutenant of Ireland politicized the kingdom, leading to Irish legislative independence. This fascinating study is the first to consider as a linked history the influence of two all-but-forgotten brothers, both of whom rose to national prominence in the same year. Griffin vividly reconstructs the many worlds the Townshends moved through and explores how their shared conception of an empire that could harness the wealth of America to the manpower of Ireland initiated an age of revolution.