Why Did the British Impose/Raise Taxes on the American Colonists

No one in the British government seems to have questioned whether colonial troops could have occupied America, or whether Britain should ask the colonists for financial aid instead of raising taxes over their heads. This was partly because the British government believed it was learning a lesson from the Indian War: that the colonial government would only cooperate with Britain if it could make a profit, and that colonial soldiers were unreliable and undisciplined because they operated under different rules than the British army. In fact, these prejudices were based on British interpretations of the first part of the war, where cooperation between politically poor British commanders and colonial governments had been strained, even hostile. Some British politicians pointed out that imposing taxes on unrepresented colonies violated the rights of every Briton, but there was not enough to overturn the new tax code. Even when the protests began in the United States, many in Parliament ignored them. This was due in part to the question of sovereignty and in part to the contempt for the settlers due to the experience of the Franco-Indian War. It was also partly due to prejudice, as some politicians believed that the colonists were subordinate to metropolitan Britain. The British government was not immune to snobbery. Parliament passed the Stamp Act on 22 March 1765 to pay off a national debt of nearly £140,000,000 after the victory over the France in the Seven Years` War (1763). A year earlier, Parliament had passed the Sugar Act, the first measure to increase revenue.

Both taxes promised disastrous consequences in a post-war economy. While the Sugar Act was only a tax on foreign goods, the Stamp Act taxed items in the colonies. Previously, only colonial assemblies were responsible for internal taxes. [3] American colonists were angry with the Stamp Act and moved quickly to oppose it. Because of the distance of the colonies from London, the epicenter of British politics, a direct appeal to Parliament was almost impossible. Instead, the settlers clearly expressed their resistance by simply refusing to pay the tax. At the time, the smartest leaders on both sides saw armed conflict as inevitable. Gage`s attempts to secure his position in Boston only brought him into conflict with local militias and a hostile population, and it was only a matter of time before open warfare began in 1775. The opportunity for peaceful negotiations ended and the War for American Independence began on April 19, 1775, when British troops and American settlers clashed at Lexington and Concord.

Artisans and workers faced lower incomes and higher costs for food, firewood and taxes. [9] On February 26, 1764, John Boyle wrote about another crisis – smallpox: “.. Many fear that it will be impossible to prevent its spread in the city. [10] Paul Revere`s family was one of seven families affected in Boston`s North End. Although his family survived, Revere`s income from his earlier flourishing money business increased from £102 in 1764 to £60 in 1765. In 1651, Britain passed its first Navigation Act, updating trade laws as necessary.[11] However, the aim was not to increase incomes, but to impose a sufficiently high tariff on foreign trade to channel trade between Britain and its colonies. [15] The tariffs proposed by Grenville would increase revenues and be strictly enforced, thereby reducing the ability of settlers to circumvent tariffs. The British believed that sovereignty was the only cause of order in politics and society, that denying, reducing or dividing sovereignty meant inviting anarchy and bloodshed.

Viewing the colonies as separate from British sovereignty meant for contemporaries imagining Britain divided into rival units, which could lead to wars between them. British dealing with the colonies often acted out of fear of reducing the power of the crown when faced with the choice of raising taxes or recognizing borders. The British felt entitled to raise taxes paid by American settlers. The American colonists were bitter and angry at what they saw as completely unwarranted taxes. Under the peace treaty, Britain gained new territories, including French Canada and French territory east of the Mississippi River. How would Britain repay its war debts and the additional costs of defending its expanded North American empire? How would American colonists react to British policy? [7] Shortly after the Currency Act was passed by Parliament, Premier Grenville proposed a stamp duty. This law would require settlers to purchase a government-issued stamp for legal documents and other paper items. Grenville submitted the bill to parliament for question, and only one member objected to Parliament`s right to tax the colonies. The American colonies seemed to the British government to be severely undertaxed. Before the war, the colonists had most of what they had contributed directly to British revenues through customs revenues, but this barely covered the cost of collection. During the war, huge sums of British currency had poured into the colonies, and many of those who had not been killed in the war or conflicts with the natives had fared very well. It seemed to the British government that some new taxes for their garrison would have to be easily absorbed.

In fact, they had to be absorbed because there seemed to be no other way to pay the army. Few people in Britain expected the settlers to have protection and not pay for it themselves. This was a major disruption to the economies of Boston and New England, as they used sugar and molasses to make rum, a major export in their trade with other countries. This act prompted the New England colonists to boycott British imports and led the colonists to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on British products. The American Revolution was sparked in part by a series of laws passed between 1763 and 1775 that regulated trade and taxes. This legislation created tensions between colonists and imperial officials, making it clear that the British Parliament would not respond to American complaints that the new laws were onerous. The British refusal to respond to American demands for change allowed the colonists to argue that they were part of an increasingly corrupt and autocratic empire in which their traditional freedoms were threatened. This position eventually served as the basis for the colonial declaration of independence. In the 1760s, more than 150 years after the founding of the first English colony in North America, the American colonies flourished. The British Parliament decided to pass a series of laws between 1760 and 1775 that would create and/or increase taxes on goods, trade, and commerce in the colonies.

During the Seven Years` War, Britain scored a number of important victories, driving France out of North America and parts of Africa, India and the West Indies. New France, the name of the French possessions in North America, was now British, but a newly conquered population could cause problems. Few people in Britain were naïve enough to believe that these former French settlers would suddenly and wholeheartedly embrace British rule without the threat of rebellion, and Britain believed that troops were needed to maintain order. Moreover, the war had shown that the existing colonies needed defence against Britain`s enemies, and Britain believed that defence would be best provided by a fully trained regular army, not just colonial militias. To this end, the post-war British government, under the leadership of King George III, decided to permanently station units of the British Army in America. However, it would take money to keep this army. The first post-war attempt to change the financial relationship between Britain and the colonies was the American Duties Act of 1764, commonly known as the Sugar Act for its treatment of molasses. It was adopted by a large majority of British MPs and had three main effects: there were laws to make customs collection more efficient; adding new fees for consumer goods in the United States, in part to encourage colonists to buy imports from the British Empire; and to modify existing costs, in particular the costs of importing molasses. The tax on molasses from the French West Indies has actually been reduced and a general fee of 3 pence per tonne has been introduced. After news of the successful passage of the Stamp Act reached the colonies, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed resolutions denying the British Parliament the power to tax the colonies. In Boston, settlers revolted and destroyed the stamp dealer`s house.

News of these protests inspired similar activities and protests in other colonies, and so the Stamp Act served as a common cause to unite the 13 colonies in opposition to the British Parliament. In October 1765, delegates from 9 colonies met to petition the British government denying Parliament the power to tax the colonies. An American boycott of British goods, coupled with a recession, also prompted British merchants to push for the repeal of the law for pragmatic economic reasons. Under pressure from American settlers and British merchants, the British government decided that it was easier to repeal the Stamp Act than to enforce it. Britain`s attempts to tax its North American settlers in the late 1700s led to conflict, war, expulsion from British rule, and the creation of a new nation.

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