What Are the Townshend Revenue Acts of 1767?

The Townshend Revenue Acts of 1767 were five acts that raised taxes on glass, paint, oil, lead, paper and tea. Their purpose was to raise revenues for British administration of the American colonies.

According to UShistory.org, the Townshend Revenue Acts resurrected hostilities that had occurred between the British colonial authority and the American colonies as a result of the Stamp Act of 1765. In addition, the increased revenue precipitated the Boston resistance. In response to the Townshend revenue increases, many colonists began to violate trade regulations on those goods with increased taxes.

Revolutionary contentions peaked in the summer of 1768, when the British impounded a sloop owned by John Hancock. The sloop had been found to violate the trade regulations established by the Townshend acts. A crowd of people mobbed the Boston customs office, at which point officials retreated to a British warship in Boston Harbor. On October 1, 1768, British troops arrived to occupy the city. Rather than resist, Boston colonists agreed to a non-importation agreement that then spread throughout the rest of the colonies.

In their design, the Townshend Acts differed from the Stamp Act as a form of external revenue collection: Taxes were collected on imports rather than on internally produced goods. Many American colonists initially failed to understand the difference between internal and external revenue gain and perceived the Townshend Act as the continued imposition of British authoritative rule — specifically, to raise colonial revenue without the taxpayers' consent.