Colonial Resistance to British Policies
Background: Previously, Parliament had only limited dealings with their colonies accross the Atlantic. After the French and Indian war, Parliament believed that the colonies should have to pay to support the forces that Britain had placed in the colonies. Parliament believed that a number of measures should be taken to decrease the debt that the English empire had amassed over the course of the Seven Years War . King George the third sought to enforce this and to bring them under control by replacing their administrations with a more strict one. Also, the crown angered the colonists by imposing taxes that the colonists felt were simply ways of raising money for the empire. In 1764, Parliament passed the Sugar act, which increased the difficulty of smuggling and passage of sugar in and out of the colonies. Also in 1764 was the passage of the currency act, which outlawed any form of local currency that the colonists had created. The third act that was passed was the stamp act which put a tax on all documents including letters and newspapers. However, the act that created
They wanted cheaper tea.
They wanted cheaper tea.
the most dissension amongst the colonies were the Intolerable Acts , which was the passage of five laws that included the closing of the port of Boston and the forced quartering of British soldiers. The colonies took offense to these laws that had come after fifty years of salutary neglect from the British empire, and they also objected to the way of which these acts were passed, namely the fact that the British didn't consult the colonial administrations before imposing taxes on them. With these combination of factors, the colonists responded with an organized resistance force, something which they had failed to do on earlier occasions.

The First Protests: When George Grenville became Prime minister in 1763, he took on a larger role in the control of the colonies. His first act ws the Proclamation of 1763 which drew a line down the Appalachian mountains that forbade any further westward settlement. This was an attempt to solve the border conflict that was developing between the western settlers and the Native Americans. The colonists responded by simply ignoring the law and continuing to settle in the lands past the Appalachian.

Opposition to the Tax Programs: All of these acts were resisted, but the most attention was centered on the Stamp Act because it affected the most people, especially those who weren't effected by the stamp and currency acts, in many forms of
ordinary life. Also, the tax was to be collected in hard currency, which was scarce in the colonies to begin with and after the currency act, the only currency that was accepted was the official currency of the British empire, which angered the colonists even further. Patrick Henry won the passage of the Virginia Resolves condemning the Stamp Tax as a violation of their rights to be taxed only by the consent of the colonial legislatures. Patrick Henry believed the taxes should be ratified by“direct representation” and not by “virtual representation.” One of the main statues of these resolves stated that Parliament could not tax anyone not represented in it, and asserted that the colonists were not represented there. The Sons of Liberty organized and by threats, tarring and feathering, and by burning the stamps forced collectors to resign. Non-importation agreements were similarly enforced against British goods. But the most effective weapon of protest was simply defiance of the Act and by the end of 1765, it had been repealed. However, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act (1766) which stated that they had the power to legislate in the colonies in all cases whatsoever. In one of the most famous cases of protest in American history, a large group of colonists disguised as Native Americans boarded a British ship in Boston Harbor and dumped all of the tea into the ocean to protest the forced tea being sold to them to support the East India Trading Company.

The Townshend Acts: After Charles Townshend took up the role of prime minister, he passed a number of acts of his own.
Charles Townshend
Charles Townshend
Townshend suspended the New York Assembly for failure to vote supplies for British troops. One of the main parts of the acts were duties that were levied on colonial imports of glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea. These external taxes were presumably acceptable to the colonials. Another measure created a board of customs commissioners and gave them authority to issue the writs of assistance to prevent smuggling. The Boston merchants organized another boycott against British imports in protest and other colonies joined them, especially in the northern colonies. The colonists had admitted Parliament’s power to levy regulatory duties, but denied its right to raise revenue from them if it was not used for the protection of the colonies.

The Boston Massacre: The colonists continued to protest these acts and the "liberty boys" took a more violent approach by tarring and feathering the tax collectors. Parliament responded by placing a large force of British soldiers in the colonies to protect the
The Boston Massacre
The Boston Massacre
customs collectors. When these soldiers were harassed by a large crowd of protesters, they fired into the crowd, killing five people. The local newspapers used the incident to play up the brutality of the British soldiers and in the first effective use of propaganda, the colonists were stirred into an overall feeling of dissent towards the British.













The First Continental Congress:
The colonists, finally driven over the edge by the Intolerable acts, chose delegates to meet in the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in September, 1774. A key point of these Intolerable acts were that they, instead of isolating Massachusetts by only shutting down the port of Boston, the British angered all of the colonies because they were all effected by the acts. The Congress, which continued in session untio late October, didn't support independence, rather it sought to right the wrongs that had been inflicted on the colonies and hoped that a unified voice would gain them a hearing in London. It passed the Suffolk Resolves , which declared the Coercive acts null and void and encouraged forcible resistance.
The First Continental Congress
The First Continental Congress
s part of this the Congress approved for the “preparations for the defense of the rights of the colonists.” It also passed the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, which stated the American position of freedom from parliamentary taxation, while accepting trade regulation. And third, it passed the Continental Association, a non-importation, non-exportation agreement, which also created a network of local committees to enforce its provisions, in effect, a coercive law passed by a body with no authority whatsoever. The delegates then resolved to meet again the following May, if their grievances against Britain had not been resolved.


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