The right of the English Parliament to make provision as to the rules of succession to the crown which had been sustained by the accession of Henry IV, Henry VII, and William and Mary to the crown, was finally vindicated by the act of settlement passed at the very beginning of the eighteenth century. By this act Parliament settled the line of descent of the English crown, cutting out two branches of the royal family, which were, by the rules of strict hereditary descent, entitled to succeed to the throne in advance of the line upon which Parliament settled the succession. As in the time of the settlement of the crown, by Parliament, upon the House of Lancaster, this settlement occasioned a civil war. The civil war of the eighteenth century, however, was of but slight importance. George I the Elector of Hanover, succeeded to the throne in 1714, upon the death of Queen Anne, and the uprising in favor of the Stuarts in 1715 and 1745 were both repulsed with little difficulty.

The constitutional history of England during the eighteenth century unlike that during the seventeenth is, as has been said, of little importance in the study of the Constitutional History of the United States, the reason being found in the fact that the events of the former century have an important bearing upon the future development of the United States Government, while those of the latter do not. There is very little of interest in the early years of the rule of the House of Hanover. The first two Kings of this House, strangers in birth and inclination to the country over which they were called to rule, never understood the English Government nor cared to interfere in its management; they were content to leave the conduct of affairs in the hands of the ministry, thus helping to expedite the movement already spoken of which was transferring the power of the crown to the ministry. This development of the ministry was the one great constitutional event of the century in England, and this development had no great influence upon America. The great ministers during the reign of the first two Hanovers were Robert Walpole and William Pitt; the rule of the former was a period of quiet and internal development; that of the latter of brilliant foreign conquest.

The rule of William Pitt commenced a new era for England; it was under him that the British Empire begins to assume shape. The result of the seven years' war was the transfer of the French Colonial Empire to England, leaving that country supreme in India and America. An indirect result of this was destined to be the American War of Independence. The destruction of the French power in America gave security to the American colonies while their services in the war against France had given them military experience and confidence. Furthermore, it was the debt which the expenses of the war had laid upon England, that later brought about the taxation of the colonies that caused the rupture between the colonies and the mother country.

The final element necessary to bring about the revolutionary war was found in the character of the third King of the House of Hanover, who came to the throne near the close of the seven years' war. The attitude of the new King towards England was far different from that of his two predecessors. He was the last of the two English kings who demanded to be King in reality as well as in name, the ruling power of the government instead of a figurehead. His attitude towards the colonies was merely a phase of his whole policy towards his subjects. This policy was destroyed when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. The War of the American Revolution brought other results to England than that of the mere loss of her colonies. It was the culmination of those events which transferred the ruling power in England from the King to the House of Commons.