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Though of humble origins, George Canning was taken under the wing of wealthy relatives who provided for his education at Eton and Oxford. Conscious of the need to secure an income, Canning initially pursued a legal career before deciding to seek a seat in the House of Commons.
He swiftly secured influential political backing in the shape of the Prime Minister, William Pitt, and began a spectacular rise to power. In 1807 he was appointed Foreign Secretary, a post which he held for two years and to which he was again appointed in 1812.
In April 1827, Canning became First Lord of the Treasury, or Prime Minister, as we know the position today. His ministry was unpopular, and he was subjected to violent personal attacks, focussing on his humble background and his alleged betrayal of his Tory principles. The attacks were not to last for long, however, for by August of that year Canning was dead.
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