The Townshend Act Essay Research Paper The

The Townshend Act Essay, Research Paper The Townshend Acts` repeal of the Stamp Act left Britain’s financial problems unresolved. Parliament had not given up the right to tax the colonies

The Townshend Act Essay, Research Paper

The Townshend Acts` repeal of the Stamp Act left Britain’s financial

problems unresolved. Parliament had not given up the right to tax the colonies

and in 1767, at the urging of chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend,

it passed the Townshend Acts, which imposed taxes on lead, glass, tea,

paint, and paper that Americans imported from Britain. In an effort to

strengthen its own authority and the power of royal colonial officials,

Parliament, at Townshend’s request, also created the American Board of

Customs Commissioners whose members would strictly enforce the Navigation

Acts. Revenue raised by the new tariffs would be used to free royal officials

from financial dependence on colonial assemblies, thus further encroaching

on colonial autonomy. Once again the colonists protested vigorously. In

December 1767,John Dickinson, a Philadelphia lawyer, published 12 popular

essays that reiterated the colonists’ denial of Parliament’s right to tax

them and warned of a conspiracy by a corrupt British ministry to enslave

Americans. The Sons of Liberty organized protests against customs officials,

merchants entered into nonimportation agreements, and the Daughters of

Liberty advocated the nonconsumption of products, such as tea, taxed by

the Townshend Acts. The Massachusetts legislature sent the other colonies

a circular letter condemning the Townshend Acts and calling for a united

American resistance. British officials then ordered the dissolution of

the Massachusetts General Court if it failed to withdraw its circular letter;

the court refused, by a vote of 92 to 17, and was dismissed. The other

colonial assemblies, initially reluctant to protest the acts, now defiantly

signed the circular letter, outraged at British interference with a colonial

legislature.In other ways, British actions again united American protest.

The Board of Customs Commissioners extorted money from colonial merchants

and usedflimsy excuses to justify seizing American vessels. These actions

heightened tensions, which exploded on June 21, 1768, when customs officials

seized Boston merchant John Hancock’s sloop Liberty. Thousands of Bostonians

rioted, threatening the customs commissioners’ lives and forcing them to

flee the city. When news of the Liberty riot reached London, four regiments

of British army troops-some 4,000 soldiers-were ordered to Boston to protect

the commissioners. The contempt of British troops for the colonists, combined

with the soldiers’ moonlighting activities that deprived Boston laborers

of jobs, inevitably led to violence. In March 1770 a riot occurred between

British troops and Boston citizens, who jeered and taunted the soldiers.

The troops fired, killing five people. The so-called Boston Massacre aroused

great colonial resentment. This anger was soon increased by further parliamentary

legislation. Bowing to colonial economic boycotts, Parliament, guided by

the new prime minister, Lord Frederick North, repealed the Townshend Acts

in 1770 but retained the tax on tea to assert its right to tax the colonies.

In order to rescue the British East India Company from bankruptcy, Parliament

passed the Tea Act in 1773, reducing the tax on tea shipped to the colonies

so that the company could sell it in America at a price lower than that

of smuggled tea. The colonists, however, refused to buy the English tea.

They viewed the Tea Act as another violation of their constitutional right

not to be taxed without representation. Colonial merchants also feared

that the act would allow the East India Company to monopolize the tea trade

and put them out of business. In Philadelphia and New York City the colonists

would not permit British ships to unload tea. In Boston, in the so-called

Boston Tea Party, a group of citizens, many disguised as Native Americans,

swarmed over British ships in the harbor and dumped the cargoes of tea

into the water.

Word Count: 601

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