British Acts Anger the Colonies

By the 1760’s, more than 150 years after the first English settlement in North America was established, the American colonies were thriving. The British parliament elected to pass a series of acts between 1760 and 1775 that would create and/or increase taxes on goods, commerce, and trade in the colonies.

Much of this tax would be used to pay for the British debt after the long and costly French and Indian War. The American colonists felt this was unfair because they were not able to vote in parliamentary elections and therefore had no voice in the matter. This led to the famous motto “No taxation without representation”. 

The Stamp Act, Sugar Act, Townshend Acts, and Intolerable Acts are four acts that contributed to the tension and unrest among colonists that ultimately led to The American Revolution.

The first act was The Sugar Act passed in 1764. The act placed a tax on sugar and molasses imported into the colonies.

This was a huge disruption to the Boston and New England economies because they used sugar and molasses to make rum, a main export in their trade with other countries. This act prompted New England colonists to boycott British imports and led to the need for colonists to become more self-sufficient and rely less on British goods. 

A year later, in 1765, The Stamp Act was passed placing a tax on all printed materials such as newspapers, magazines, and legal documents. The Stamp Act meant that these materials had to be printed on official British stamped paper.

The Stamp Act created outrage among the colonists and many began protesting the acts.

The Townshend Acts were a series of acts passed in 1767 and 1768 that placed indirect taxes on imports British goods such as glass, lead, pants, paper, and tea. These acts were also met with protests from the colonies, and the British government had to send troops to enforce the taxes. 

The Intolerable Acts were five acts passed by the British Parliament against the American colonists in 1774: Boston Port Act, Massachusetts Government Act, Administration of Justice Act, Quartering Act, and the Quebec Act. These acts were meant to punish the colonists for the Boston Tea Party, where a group of colonists threw hundreds of boxes of British tea into the Boston harbor in protest of the increasing taxation of the British Parliament.