From the pages of history, it seems that the British parliament never gave a minute to its colonies in America to heave a sigh of relief. It always made it a point to make life as difficult for the colonists as possible, and keep them constantly on their toes.
Keeping in with that legacy, there came Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A series of acts and laws starting off in 1767, were proposed by him. In case history's mysteries are what gets your adrenaline rushing, then this post is surely for you.
What Was the Townshend Act?
As mentioned earlier, this act got its name after Charles Townshend. New laws were passed, starting with the Revenue Act of 1767. In fact, this was just a couple of years after the Stamp Act of 1765 was repealed. Primarily, this string of laws was passed for raising the revenue within the colonies.
This would be used to pay the salaries of the governor and judges. Fresh duties were imposed on paint, lead, glass, paper and tea, which were imported in the colonies. This was a very cunning move as the inhabitants of the colonies had to buy these goods from Great Britain. The reason for this was that the judges could be independent of colonial rule.
Forming effective ways of enforcing trade regulations, establish the norm and rule by default that the Parliament had the right to levy tax on the colonies. Another reason was to teach a lesson to the province of New York for not complying with the 1765 Quartering Act.
A number of laws were included under the Townshend Act. For instance, The Indemnity Act, The Commissioners of Customs Act, the Vice Admiralty Court Act, the New York Restraining Act and the Revenue Act of 1767.
Turning a Few Pages Back
Well, a number of things transpired before the Townshend Act was made into a law. As was the case with a number of laws during that period, the genesis was in the Seven Years War. A major repercussion of that war was that the British Empire came under a lot of debt.
So to recover the costs of the expenditure and to provide for the expanded empire, the Parliament took a decision to levy taxes on the colonies. Thus, a number of laws levying taxes on the colonies were implemented. This was the first time the British Parliament generated revenue from the American colonies.
Reaction to the 1767 Townshend Act
This law drew a lot of flak from the colonists. Boycotts were held by merchants, exerting pressure on the British counterparts to take steps towards a repeal. Non importation (suspension of import of particular British goods) was brought to effect on January 1, 1769 by merchants in Boston. Although it wasn't as effective as it was deemed to be.
A pivotal and influential response to this step by British parliament was a compilation of essays by John Dickinson from Pennsylvania. 5 civilians were killed in a massacre in Boston in 1770 by the British forces. Partial repeal of the Act. was asked for following the massacre in the British Parliament.
Eventually, the duty levied on account of the Townshend Act was retained on tea, culminating into the 1773 Tea Act, allowing the East India Company to ship tea straight to the colonies. This led to the Boston Tea Party, a pivotal event in American history. That is all! Hope this was interesting!