Presentation on theme: "A series of new taxes and enforcement procedures further demonstrated that the British were going to change the rules on the colonies and further alienated."— Presentation transcript:
A series of new taxes and enforcement procedures further demonstrated that the British were going to change the rules on the colonies and further alienated colonists. Sugar Act, 1764; (a.k.a. Revenue Act): First in a series of laws enacted under Prime Minister George Grenville. Its purpose is to limit smuggling of molasses and force colonists to pay a portion of their defense after the French and Indian War. It actually reduced the tax on molasses, but now the tariff would be enforced. The Act also levied taxes on textiles, wine, coffee, indigo, and sugar. Currency Act, 1764: A chronic shortage of hard currency (specie) always plagued the colonies. To overcome it, many colonies began printing paper money with which to pay off debts. British creditors feared payment in paper because of inflation. They wanted to be paid in gold or silver. The Currency Act prohibited colonies from paying debts in paper. Paper money throughout the colonies lost value because no one would accept it. The combination of new taxes and the requirement to pay debts and taxes in specie sent shock waves through the colonial economy.
Developments in 1765 made many colonists even more nervous about Parliament’s authority. Stamp Act, 1765: The law imposed a tax on all printed materials and legal documents: deeds, leases, licenses, wills, newspapers, pamphlets, etc. What made the tax even more troubling to colonists was that it was a direct tax: a tax added and paid directly rather than hidden in the cost like a tariff. Many colonial leaders were hit hard by the tax and sought a way to challenge Parliament’s authority. They latched on to political theories offered by British Whigs, in the tradition of John Locke. Among the most important opponents of the tax was James Otis. By no means a radical, nor wanting colonial independence, Otis had developed an argument against the taxes in 1764, in The Rights of the British Colonists Asserted and Proved.
The key issue for the colonists was representation and governing with the consent of the people. Otis argued in favor of “direct representation.” Delegates from each community would meet in an assembly, acting a agents for their constituents. Britain responded, arguing a concept called “virtual representation.” As representation in Parliament gradually changed from local to national, members of the House of Commons represented the interests of their class, the “commons.” The House of Lords, represented the interests of the gentry. Several issues made virtual representation inadequate in the colonies: (1) a more fluid social organization than Britain; (2) a more diverse population than Britain; and (3) the different interests involved in governing a frontier settlement from governing Britain. Of course sheer distant made direct representation inadequate, as well. “The colonists will have an equitable right... to be represented in Parliament, or to have some new subordinate legislature among themselves. It would be best if they had both.... Besides the equity of an American representation in Parliament, a thousand advantages would result.... It would be the most effectual means of giving those of both countries a thorough knowledge of each others interests.” James Otis
Virginia led the attack on the Stamp Act. Patrick Henry asserted that colonials enjoyed all “Rights of Englishmen” and were exempt from any tax that did not derive from their own assemblies. In June 1765, Massachusetts sent invitations to each of the colonial assemblies to meet in New York to discuss a unified colonial response to the Stamp Act. “It is inseparably essential to the freedom of the people, and the undoubted rights of Englishmen, that no taxes should be imposed on them, but with their own consent, given personally, or by their representatives.” Patrick Henry
In the interim, resistance to the Stamp Act had begun. Bostonians hung an effigy of the stamp distributor from what would soon be called the “Liberty Tree” or “Liberty Pole” Over the next month, mobs, calling themselves “Sons of Liberty,” attacked the homes of government officials. Soon just the threat of violence was enough for colonials to get their way.
Nine colonial delegations met in the Stamp Act Congress in New York. Georgia and New Hampshire could not afford to send delegates; Virginia and North Carolina did not send delegates because their assemblies were out of session. The Congress deliberated for three weeks and issued the “Declaration of Rights and Grievances” and a petition to King George III for relief. That the inhabitants of the English Colonies in North America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following Rights: 1. That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property. 2. That [those] who first settled these colonies, were... entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free and natural born subjects within the realm of England. 3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost any of those rights. * * * The key point, beyond basic legal rights, in the Declaration is Part 4. wherein the Congress discusses representation. 4. That the foundation of English liberty, and of all free government, is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council: and as the English colonists are not represented, and from their local and other circumstances, cannot properly be represented in the British parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures...
The Declaration warned of the actions colonies intended to take to make Parliament back down to “restore us to that state in which both countries found happiness and prosperity, we have for the present only resolved to pursue the following peaceable measures: 1. To enter into a non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement or association. 2. To prepare an address to the people of Great Britain, and a memorial to the inhabitants of British America, and 3. To prepare a loyal address to his Majesty, agreeable to resolutions already entered into.”
Parliament: What used to be the pride of the Americans? Franklin: “To indulge in the fashions and manufactures of Great Britain.“ Parliament: “What is now their pride?“ Franklin: “To wear their old clothes over again till they can make new ones.” Many colonies enacted “Non-importation Agreements,” establishing boycotts of all British goods. One result of the boycotts was that colonials could no longer buy British cloth or clothing. They began wearing homespun instead. This gave the revolutionary era a drab fashion, as homespun was a coarser fabric than British textiles and lacking in the variety of dye colors.
The boycotts and lobbying by Franklin in Parliament, and support from Whigs in Parliament (notably Edmund Burke) combined to cause Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act. The repeal obviously was a victory for the colonists, but Parliament moved quickly to reassert its authority. It drew a distinction between “external” taxes on trade (what colonials meant by indirect taxes) and “internal” taxes within the colonies (direct taxes). This left an opening to raise tariffs. Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, which asserted Parliament’s right to enact taxes and any other laws on the colonies. “Parliament has a right to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever.” Declaratory Act, 1766
In 1767, Charles Townshend became new Chancellor of the Exchequer and sought a “painless” way to get money out of the colonies. The Revenue Act of 1767, better known as the Townshend Duties, placed tariffs (“external” taxes) on glass, lead, paper, paint, and tea. Additionally, Townshend enforced the Quartering Act of 1765, which required colonials to provide provisions and housing to British troops stationed there. It hit New York hardest because New York was the headquarters of the British force in the colonies.
The new taxes caused opponents of the laws to split over tactics. The moderate view was represented by John Dickinson in his Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer.
Outraged by the new taxes, many colonials again called for boycotts. Among the most aggressive were the Sons of Liberty in Massachusetts, led by Samuel Adams. A young Harvard graduate, Adams inherited his family’s brewery and soon ran it into the ground. Described as the “Puritan type... poor but incorruptible,” he found his calling in rebel (rabble) rousing. In 1768, in the Massachusetts Assembly, Adams and James Otis wrote the Massachusetts Circular Letter (open letter) attacking Parliament’s taxing and calling on other colonies to join Massachusetts. The Royal Governor of Massachusetts dissolved the assembly. Soon the answers to the letter started arriving: the colonies supported Massachusetts.
Boston Massacre “We have entertained a great variety of phrases to avoid calling this sort of people a mob. Some call them shavers, some call them geniuses. The plain English is, gentlemen, [it was] most probably a motley rabble of saucy boys, Negroes and mulattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jackers. And why should we scruple to call such a people a mob, I can’t conceive, unless the name is too respectable for them.” John Adams The issue festered until the winter of 1770. On the cold, moonlit evening of March 5th, a group of young men began taunting a sentry with snowballs at the Customs House in Boston. Soon the snowballs turned to ice, rocks, and coal lumps. The group became a mob as several hundred converged on the Customs House. Eight soldiers reinforced the lone sentry when he called and as the mob bashed sticks together and threw whatever was at hand, a soldier fired and then the platoon fired into the crowd. By the time the dust cleared, five colonials lay dead, including an African American dockworker named Crispus Attucks, often considered the first casualty of the Revolution.
“Unhappy Boston! See thy sons deplore Thy hallowed walks besmear’d with guiltless gore. While faithless Preston and his savage bands, With murderous rancor stretch their bloody hands; Like fierce barbarians grinning o’er their prey, Approve the carnage and enjoy the day. If scalding drops, from rage, from anguish wrung, If speechless sorrows lab’ring for a tongue, Or if a weeping world can aught appease The plaintiff ghosts of victims such as these; The patriot’s copious tears for each are shed, A glorious tribute which enbalms the dead. But now, Fate summons to that awful goal, Where justice strips the murderer from his soul Should venal C____ts, the scandal of the land, Snatch the relentless villain from her hand, Keen execrations on this plate enscrib’d Shall reach a judge who never can be bribed.” Samuel Adams called the killings “bloody butchery” and asked Paul Revere to create an illustration of the event.
The Boston Massacre scared both sides. Samuels Adams and Joseph Warren continued to organize resistance, reviving the Committee of Correspondence. And in Virginia, Patrick Henry and others, including Thomas Jefferson, created a Committee of Correspondence. But as a matter, tensions and conditions eased between 1770 and 1773. The taxes on tea caused Bostonians to boycott tea, causing debt for the British East India Company. The company lobbied Parliament for assistance. The Tea Act of 1773 eliminated the import duty on the company’s tea and enabled the company to sell its tea at a lower price than Hancock’s (and others’) smuggled tea. Hancock and his protégé, Samuel Adams, were particularly upset by the new arrangement.
The Boston Tea Party On December 16 th, 1773, the issue came to a head. Three ships carrying a new cargo of tea were to land at Griffin’s Wharf. That night, Adams’ Sons of Liberty met at the South Meeting House to organize their protest. Some dressed up as Mohawk Indians, others as women, and they sneaked through the dark down Congress Street to the wharf. They boarded the ships and tossed 45 tons of tea, valued at £10,000 into the harbor. The tea washed up on the shores of Boston Harbor for weeks afterward.
The British response was quick and severe. Parliament enacted a series of laws, known as the Coercive Acts because they meant to coerce better behavior from Massachusetts, or as the Intolerable Acts because the colonials found they could not tolerate them. 1.Boston Port Act: closed the port of Boston to all traffic and trade. 2.Act for the Impartial Administration of Justice: moved all trials to Admiralty Courts in Halifax. 3.Massachusetts Government Act: the Royal Governor appoints the colonial council and law enforcement officers. 4.Quartering Act of 1774, which expanded the requirement to provide room and board for British soldiers, including in private homes, if necessary. Not officially one of the Coercive Acts, but still intolerable to colonists, Parliament passed the Quebec Act. It set up unrepresentative government in Quebec; gave a privileged position to the Roman Catholic Church in the province; and expanded Quebec‘s boundary west, encircling the Thirteen Colonies. Throughout the Colonies, it was seen as the thin edge of a wedge whereby Britain intended to take representative government and the Reformed Protestant religion away from colonials.
The Intolerable Acts began a tumbling snowball that within two years led to American independence. On September 5, 1774, delegates from each of the Thirteen Colonies, except Georgia, met at Carpenter Hall in the First Continental Congress. Canadian and West Indian delegations were invited, but did not attend. Among the delegates were John and Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, George Washington, John Dickinson, as well as Edmund Rutledge of South Carolina, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and John Jay of New York. The Congress debated, but rejected a plan offered by Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania that would have created the Continental Association, similar to Franklin’s Plan of Union. It approved an embargo on British goods. The Congress adjourned in October with orders to meet again in May 1775.