What are the Townshend Acts?


Quick Answer

The Townshend Acts were a series of legislative measures that the English parliament took in hopes of quelling a rebellion by the American colonists, and the acts imposed taxes on different trades so that the salaries of governors and judges in the colonies increased. Increased salaries were a form of bribery to help keep top officials loyal to Britain.

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Full Answer

The Townshend Acts were named for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend, who proposed them. Under the acts, there would be increased taxes on lead, paper, tea, glass, lead, and paint. When the new taxes were passed in 1767, the colonists protested. The colonists argued that they were not fairly represented within the parliament and therefore new taxes could not be imposed on them. Protests grew violent and the British government sent more troops to America to help control the colonists.

The Townshend Acts were partially repealed in 1770 following the Boston Massacre. The tax on tea remained and was protected under the passage of the new Tea Act that was passed in 1773. The repeal of the other taxes forged a short truce until 1772 when colonists burned down a British boat. The American Revolution began shortly thereafter in 1775 and lasted until 1783.

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