The Townshend Acts
lead to renewed protests in the American Colonies
1767 - 1770
Many members of the British government disliked giving in to the disobedient colonies over the Stamp Act. They included the Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend, who developed a new plan for raising money from the colonies. Townshend convinced Parliament that the colonists would find a duty, or indirect tax placed on imported goods, more agreeable than the Stamp Act, which taxed them directly. In 1767, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts. One act placed duties on glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea imported into the colonies. Another act set up a customs agency in Boston to collect them efficiently.
The Townshend Acts led to renewed protests in the American Colonies. The colonists accepted Britain's right to regulate their trade. But they argued that the Townshend duties were taxes in disguise. To protest the duties, Americans stopped buying British goods. British merchants, hurt by the boycott, pressured the government to back down. In 1770, Parliament withdrew all the Townshend duties except the one on tea. It kept the tea duty to demonstrate its right to tax the colonies.
Protests against what the colonists called "taxation without representation" were especially violent in Boston. On March 5, 1770, soldiers and townspeople clashed in a street fight that became known as the Boston Massacre. During the fight, frightened British soldiers fired into a crowd of rioters. Five men died as a result, including a black patriot named Crispus Attucks. They were the first colonists to lose their lives in protest against British policies.
Patriots spread news of the Boston Massacre to turn public opinion in America against Great Britain. In 1772, political leaders in Boston formed the Committee of Correspondence to explain to other communities by such means as letters how British actions threatened American liberties. Other committees of correspondence were soon set up throughout the colonies. The committees helped unite the colonies in their growing struggle with the British government.
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