1767 – Townshend Revenue Act
On 24th May 1607 the British Virginia Company landed their three ships near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay area on the banks of the James River. There they founded the first permanent English colony in the New World. Now known as Jamestown, Virginia, this was the start of the British colonisation of the Americas.
Following the Seven Year War (1754 – 1763), Britain emerged as both the world’s leading colonial power and pre-eminent naval power. Although it gained a number of new territories, the cost of the war left it heavily indebted. Needing to raise much-needed revenue, Britain enacted the Sugar Act of 1764. This was Britain’s first attempt to tax the British American colonists to raise revenue. The American colonists argued the tax was unconstitutional as they were being taxed without any representation (in Parliament). The colonists boycotted buying sugar, so the tax raised little revenue, before being repealed.
The 1767 Townshend Revenue Act was a British Act enacted to raise revenue in the colonies to pay the salaries of governors and judges (so that they would remain loyal to Great Britain) and establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the colonies. The Act placed an import duty on glass, lead, paints, paper and tea imported into the British American colonies in North America. These goods were not produced within the colonies and could only legally be imported from Britain.
The Americans deeply resented being taxed by the British and protested by boycotting the imported British goods. Instead, they purchased smuggled goods which were much cheaper as they had no import duties or taxes added. As a result, by 1770 Britain had repealed all the taxes on the colony, except for the import duty on tea. Britain retained the tax on tea in order to demonstrate to the colonists that Parliament held the sovereign authority to tax its colonies in accordance with the Declaratory Act of 1766.
"You’d be stupid not to try to cut your tax bill and those that don’t are stupid in business"
- Bono: U2