Townshend Acts

Townshend Acts

Townshend Acts, 1767, originated by Charles Townshend and passed by the English Parliament shortly after the repeal of the Stamp Act. They were designed to collect revenue from the colonists in America by putting customs duties on imports of glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea. The colonials, spurred on by the writings of John Dickinson, Samuel Adams, and others, protested against the taxes. The Boston merchants again boycotted English goods, the Massachusetts Assembly was dissolved (1768) for sending a circular letter to other colonies explaining the common plight, and British troops sent to enforce these laws and keep peace were involved in unpleasant incidents, notably the Boston Massacre. The boycott decreased British trade, and in 1770 most of the Acts were repealed, but retention of the tea tax caused the Boston Tea Party.
The Townshend Acts (1767) passed by Parliament on 29 June 1767 refer to two Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain passed in 1767, originally proposed by Charles Townshend. These laws placed a tax on common products imported into the American Colonies, such as lead, paper, paint, glass, and tea, while giving revenues from these taxes to the British governors and other officials that were normally paid by town assemblies. This could be considered taking the 'power of the purse' of these colonial assemblies. In contrast to the Stamp Act of 1765, the laws were not a direct tax, but rather a tax on imports. The Townshend Acts also created three new admiralty courts to try Americans and reaffirmed the legality of writs of assistance, which gave tax collectors permission to search for smuggled goods (these smuggled goods would be sold in England and the European countryside for profit to Britain).

The Townshend Acts represent the continued efforts of Parliament to place a portion of the large debt incurred by French and Indian War on the American colonies where it had been fought. However, the Acts provoked only further outrage among American colonists and helped spark the Liberty seizure and riots of 1768, their opposition best stated by the phrase "No taxation without representation" originally spoken by James Otis. Smugglers, who were negatively affected by the Acts, avoided the taxes by importing illegal goods and by organizing a boycott of the legitimate imports, of which Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty of Boston were notable supporters. Women also contributed by producing their own goods or relying on domestic products, e.g. spinning their own yarn and cloth, as well as participating in their own organizations such as the Daughters of Liberty. John Dickinson helped also raised support among the colonists through a series of 12 essays entitled "Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania", addressing himself as "A Farmer". These tax things like tea, glass, paper, lead, and paint, exported and imported.

In April 1770, this Act was repealed, with the exception of a tax that was retained on tea (which would eventually lead to the Boston Tea Party).

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