Taxation Without Representation
After the French and Indian War, the British government faced an enormous debt to pay off. They believed that the colonists should have to pay some of this debt and between 1750 and the mid-1770's passed a series of taxes to be enforced in the colonies. These taxes were following the policy of mercantalism , one that proved highly effective. The result was a growing animosity towards the British government, and the colonists demanded an end to these taxes.

The Sugar Act
The Sugar Act of 1764 was passed in order to end the smuggling that was occuring betweet the colonies and the French/Spanish. It also created vice-admiralty courts to try smugglers to deny them the benefit of local juries. Another provision of the act was the lowering of the duties of molasses which damaged the sugar trade in the colonies. By making smuggling more dangerous, the colonial ports especially in New England suffered heavy economic losses. British Prime
Boycotts were organized to fight the British taxes
Boycotts were organized to fight the British taxes
Minister George Grenville ordered the navy to enforce the Sugar Act. Still colonists continued to smuggle molasses until 1766, when the duty on foreign molasses was lowered to one penny. The Sugar Act provided the British treasury with about 30,000 pounds per year between 1766 and 1775, a substantial source of income.

The Currency Act
The Currency Act of 1764 required the colonial assemblies to stop issuing paper money and to retire on schedule all the paper money already in cirulation. The act was effectively a takeover of the colonial economic system by the British government, and the British supported the "hard currency" that was based on the pound sterling. The colonies were extremely opposed to this act because of the trade deficit that they began to undergo due to a lack of capital.

The Stamp Act

external image Skeleton%20stamp%20act.jpgThe following year, the British Parliament and Prime Minister Grenville still felt that the colonists needed to pay more for the protection that they were recieving from the over 200,000 British troops stationed in the colonies.

The Stamp Act of 1765, the most drastic of all, imposed a tax on almost all of the printed documents in the colonies such as newspapers, licenses, deeds, and letters. The act also required that the tax be payed in the new British currency, not the colonial paper money. Unlike the Sugar Act, which was an external tax (it taxed only goods imported into the colonies), the Stamp Act was an internal tax, imposed directly upon the property and goods of the colonists. The colonies had never been taxed internally by Britain before, and had traditionally taxed themselves through their colonial assemblies. The act caused the colonists to realize that they were not being represented fairly in Parliament.

The Townshend Duties
Charles Townshend soon took up the challenge of dealing with the colonies grievances. In 1767 he imposed a new set of
Charles Townshend
Charles Townshend
taxes on the colonies, one that taxed different goods such as lead, paint, paper, and tea that were all imported from England. Townshend claimed that these taxes could not be objected to because they were what Benjamin Franklin had called "external taxes". Franklin had objected to the Stamp Act because he claimed that they were "internal taxes" and that was wrong. So Townshend believed that because these taxes had been distinguished as imported goods, then they followed the criteria that they colonies had proposed.

Virtual versus Actual Representation

The colonies main objection to the taxes that they were facing was the fact that they were being taxed without their say in what taxes were imposed on them. The British countered this point by claiming that the members of Parliament didn't represent specific people or specific areas, but all of the interests of the British people. This theory was called "virtual representation" and would be the fundamental difference between the interests of the colonies and the British. Grenville and the Parliament believed that the colonies were being represented even though they didn't elect their own representatives but other people such as William Pitt believed that the colonies were not being treated fairly.

The Tea Act
Seeking to further expand the East India Trading Company's monopoly on the trade in the British colonies, the British
The East India Trading Company
The East India Trading Company
Parliament passed The Tea Act in 1773. The Tea Act lowered the price on this East India tea so much that it was way below tea from other suppliers. But the American colonists saw this law as yet another means of "taxation without representation" because it meant that they couldn't buy tea from anyone else (including other colonial merchants) without spending a lot more money. Their response was to refuse to unload the tea from the ships. These events would lead to the Boston Tea Party and the eventual start of the Revolution .