What did the passage of the Townshend Acts cause the colonists to do?


Quick Answer

The Townshend Acts, a number of laws imposed upon Britain's American colonists to impose taxes and extract revenue, met with overwhelming opposition in the colonies and caused the dissenting colonists to call for a boycott on taxed items. The colonists then followed the boycott with both verbal and violent protests, prompting British soldiers to kill five American civilians in the Boston Massacre of 1770.

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Full Answer

After the Stamp Act of 1765 was repealed following widespread American opposition, Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend pushed through Parliament a new series of laws meant to raise money in the colonies. These acts suspended the New York Assembly, reorganized the customs service and imposed duties on paint, paper, glass, lead and tea. The colonists saw the Townshend Acts as a threat to self-government. The ensuing boycott reduced tax revenue to Britain. Because the new customs board headquartered in Boston, the city was a hotbed of dissent. Colonial Secretary Lord Hillsborough sent four regiments of troops to Boston, and the outrage of the Bostonians to the occupation led to the Boston Massacre.

Ironically, on the same day of the massacre, the prime minister of England partially repealed the Townshend Acts. The duty on tea remained, however, as a symbol that Britain had the right to tax its colonies. The rebellion of the colonies against this measure culminated in 1773 in the Boston Tea Party, which was one of the key events that led to the American Revolution and the war for independence of the American colonies.

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