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SUGAR ACT (1764) On April 5, 1764, Parliament passed a modified version of the Sugar and Molasses Act (1733), which was about to expire. Under the Molasses Act colonial merchants had been required to pay a tax of six pence per gallon on the importation of foreign molasses. But because of corruption, they mostly ignored the taxes and ruined the intention of the tax — that the English product would be cheaper compared to the French West Indies. This hurt the British West Indies market in molasses and sugar and the market for rum, which the colonies had been producing in quantity with the cheaper French molasses. The First Lord of the Treasury, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Grenville was trying to bring the colonies in line with regard to payment of taxes. He had beefed up the Navy presence and instructed them to become more active in customs enforcement. Parliament decided it would be wise to make a few adjustments to the trade regulations. The Sugar Act reduced the rate of tax on molasses from six pence to three pence per gallon, while Grenville took measures that the duty be strictly enforced. The act also listed more foreign goods to be taxed including sugar, certain wines, coffee, pimiento, cambric and printed calico, and further, regulated the export of lumber and iron. The enforced tax on molasses caused the almost immediate decline in the rum industry in the colonies. The combined effect of the new duties was to sharply reduce the trade with Madeira, the Azores, the Canary Islands, and the French West Indies (Guadalupe, Martinique and Santo Domingo (now Haiti)), all important destination ports for lumber, flour, cheese, and assorted farm products. The situation disrupted the colonial economy by reducing the markets to which the colonies could sell, and the amount of currency available to them for the purchase of British manufactured goods. This act, and the Currency Act, set the stage for the revolt at the imposition of the Stamp Act. The Sugar Act was passed by Parliament on April 5, 1764, and it arrived in the colonies at a time of economic depression. It was an indirect tax, although the colonists were well informed of its presence. A good part of the reason was that a significant portion of the colonial economy during the Seven Years War was involved with supplying food and supplies to the British Army. Colonials, however, especially those affected directly as merchants and shippers, assumed that the highly visible new tax program was the major culprit. As protests against the Sugar Act developed, it was the economic impact rather than the constitutional issue of taxation without representation that was the main focus for the colonists. New England ports especially suffered economic losses from the Sugar Act as the stricter enforcement made smuggling molasses more dangerous and risky. Also they argued that the profit margin on rum was too small to support any tax on molasses. Forced to increase their prices, many colonists feared being priced out of the market. The British West Indies, on the other hand, now had undivided access to colonial exports. With supply of molasses well exceeding demand, the islands prospered with their reduced expenses while New England ports saw revenue from their rum exports decrease. Also the West Indies had been the primary colonial source for hard currency, or specie, and as the reserves of specie were depleted the soundness of colonial currency was threatened. Two prime movers behind the protests against the Sugar Act were Samuel Adams and James Otis, both of Massachusetts. In August 1764, fifty Boston merchants agreed to stop purchasing British luxury imports, and in both Boston and New York there were movements to increase colonial manufacturing. There were sporadic outbreaks of violence, most notably in Rhode Island. Overall, however, there was not an immediate high level of protest over the Sugar Act in either New England or the rest of the colonies. That would begin in the later part of the next year when the Stamp Act was passed. Stamp ACT (1765) The Stamp Act of 1765 (short title Duties in American Colonies Act 1765; 5 George III, c. 12) was a direct tax imposed by the British Parliament specifically on the colonies of British America. The act required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London and carrying an embossed revenue stamp. These printed materials were legal documents, magazines, newspapers and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies. Like previous taxes, the stamp tax had to be paid in valid British currency, not in colonial paper money. The purpose of the tax was to help pay for troops stationed in North America after the British victory in the Seven Years' War. The British government felt that the colonies were the primary beneficiaries of this military presence, and should pay at least a portion of the expense. The Stamp Act met with great resistance in the colonies. The colonies sent no representatives to Parliament, and therefore had no influence over what taxes were raised, how they were levied, or how they would be spent. Many colonists considered it a violation of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent—consent that only the colonial legislatures could grant. Colonial assemblies sent petitions and protests. The Stamp Act Congress held in New York City, reflecting the first significant joint colonial response to any British measure, also petitioned Parliament and the king. Local protest groups, led by colonial merchants and landowners, established connections through correspondence that created a loose coalition that extended from New England to Georgia. Protests and demonstrations initiated by the Sons of Liberty often turned violent and destructive as the masses became involved. Very soon all stamp tax distributors were intimidated into resigning their commissions, and the tax was never effectively collected. While the colonial legislatures were acting, the ordinary citizens of the colonies were also voicing their concerns outside of this formal political process. There were massive protests in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Hampshire, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Grenville was replaced as Prime Minister on July 10, 1765, by Lord Rockingham, the first lord of the treasury. News of the mob violence began to reach England in October. At the same time that resistance in America was building and accelerating, conflicting sentiments were taking hold in Britain. Some wanted to strictly enforce the Stamp Act over colonial resistance, wary of the precedent that would be set by backing down. Others, feeling the economic effects of reduced trade with America after the Sugar Act and an inability to collect debts while the colonial economy suffered, began to lobby for a repeal of the Stamp Act. A significant part of colonial protest had included various non-importation agreements among merchants who recognized that a significant portion of British industry and commerce was dependent on the colonial market. This movement had spread through the colonies with a significant base coming from New York City where 200 merchants had met and agreed to import nothing from England until the Stamp Act was repealed. Quartering ACT (1765) Quartering Act is the name of at least two 18th-century acts of the Parliament of Great Britain. “Quartering” literally means the buildings, houses, barracks, or rooms occupied by military personnel or their families. These Quartering Acts were used by the British forces in the American colonies to ensure that British soldiers had adequate housing and provisions. These acts were amendments to the Mutiny Act, which had to be renewed annually by Parliament. Originally intended as a response to problems that arose during Britain's victory in the Seven Years War they later became a source of tension between inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies and the government in London. Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage, commander-in-chief of forces in British North America, and other British officers who had fought in the French and Indian War, had found it hard to persuade colonial assemblies to pay for quartering and provisioning of troops on the march and he asked Parliament to do something. Most colonies had supplied provisions during the war, but the issue was disputed in peacetime. The Province of New York assembly passed an act to provide for the quartering of British regulars, which expired on January 1, 1764.The result was the Quartering Act of 1765, which went far beyond what Gage had requested. The colonies disputed the legality of this Act since it seemed to violate the Bill of Rights 1689 which forbid taxation without representation and the raising or keeping of a standing army without the consent of Parliament. No standing army had been kept in the colonies before the French and Indian War, so the colonies asked why a stand-in army was needed after the French had been defeated. This first Quartering Act (citation 5 Geo. III c. 33) was given Royal Assent on March 24, 1765, and provided that Great Britain would house its soldiers in American barracks and public houses, as by the Mutiny Act of 1765, but if its soldiers outnumbered the housing available, would quarter them "in inns, livery stables, ale houses, victualing houses, and the houses of sellers of wine and houses of persons selling of rum, brandy, strong water, cider or meth Eglin", and if numbers required in "uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings." Colonial authorities were required to pay the cost of housing and feeding these troops. When 1,500 British troops arrived at New York City in 1766 the New York Provincial Assembly refused to comply with the Quartering Act and failed to supply billeting for the troops. The troops had to remain on their ships. For failure to comply with the Quartering Act, Parliament suspended the Province of New York's Governor and legislature in 1767 and 1769. In 1771, the New York Assembly allocated funds for the quartering of the British troops. This act expired on March 24, 1767 Declaratory ACT (1766) Parliament then agreed to repeal the Stamp Act on the condition that the Declaratory Act was passed. On March 18, 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act and passed the Declaratory Act. In other words, the Declaratory Act of 1766 asserted that Parliament had the absolute power to make laws and changes to the colonial government, "in all cases whatsoever", even though the colonists were unrepresented in the Parliament. Normally the economic activity in the colonies wouldn't have caused such an outcry, but the English economy was still suffering from its post-war depression from the Seven Years War. Another reason that the Stamp Act was repealed was the fact that George Grenville, the Prime Minister who had enacted the Stamp Acts, had been replaced by Rockingham. Rockingham was more favorable towards the colonies, and furthermore he was rather antagonistic to any policy that Grenville had enacted. Rockingham invited Benjamin Franklin to speak to Parliament about colonial policy, and he portrayed the colonists as in opposition to internal taxes (which were derived from internal colonial transactions) like the Stamp Act called for, but not external taxes (which were duties laid on imported commodities). Parliament then agreed to repeal the Stamp Act. The Declaratory Act asserted that Parliament "had, hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America ... in all cases whatsoever". The phrasing of the act was intentionally unambiguous, and although many in Parliament felt that taxes were implied in this clause, some other Parliament members and many of the colonialists did not. Many of the colonists were busy celebrating their political victory (the repealing of the Stamp Act) to notice that the Declaratory Act subtley hinted that more acts would be coming. This Declaratory Act was copied almost word for word from the Irish Declaratory Act, an act which put Ireland in a position of bondage to their crown. The same fate was to come to The Thirteen Colonies. Other colonists, however, were outraged. When in 1767 this modernised British Parliament,committed by now to the principle of parliamentary sovereignty unlimited and unlimitable, issued a declaration that a parliamentary majority could pass any law it saw fit, it was greeted with an out-cry of horror in the colonies. James Otis and Sam Adams in Massachusetts, Patrick Henry in Virginia and other colonial leaders along the seaboard screamed "Treason" and "Magna Carta"! Such a document, they insisted, demolished the essence of all their British ancestors had fought for, took the very savour out of that fine Anglo-Saxon liberty for which the sages and patriots of England had died. Thus the Declaratory Act can be seen as a predecessor to future acts that would further incite the anger of the American colonists and eventually lead up to the American Revolutionary War. References to it, especially to the phrase "in all cases whatsoever", can be found, among other places, in the Declaration of Independence. Townshend Acts (1767) The Townshend Acts were a series of acts passed beginning in 1767 by the Parliament of Great Britain relating to the British colonies in North America. The acts are named for Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who proposed the program. Historians vary slightly in which acts they include under the heading "Townshend Acts", but five laws are frequently mentioned: the Revenue Act of 1767, the Indemnity Act, the Commissioners of Customs Act, the Vice Admiralty Court Act, and the New York Restraining Act. The purpose of the Townshend Acts was to raise revenue in the colonies to pay the salaries of governors and judges so that they would be independent of colonial control, to create a more effective means of enforcing compliance with trade regulations, to punish the province of New York for failing to comply with the 1765 Quartering Act, and to establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the colonies. The Townshend Acts met with resistance in the colonies, prompting the occupation of Boston by British troops in 1768, which eventually resulted in the Boston Massacre of 1770. According to the British Constitution, British subjects could not be taxed without the consent of their representatives in Parliament. Because the colonies elected no members of the British Parliament, many colonists viewed Parliament's attempt to tax them as a violation of the constitutional doctrine of taxation only by consent. Some British politicians countered this argument with the theory of "virtual representation", which maintained that the colonists were in fact represented in Parliament even though they elected no members. This issue, only briefly debated following the Sugar Act, became a major point of contention following Parliament's passage of the 1765 Stamp Act. The Stamp Act proved to be wildly unpopular in the colonies, compelling Parliament to repeal it the following year. The first of the Townshend Acts, sometimes simply known as the Townshend Act, was the Revenue Act of 1767. This act represented the Chatham ministry's new approach for generating tax revenue in the American colonies after the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766. The British government had gotten the impression that because the colonists had objected to the Stamp Act on the grounds that it was a direct (or "internal") tax, colonists would therefore accept indirect (or "external") taxes, such as taxes on imports. With this in mind, Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, devised a plan that placed new duties on paper, paint, lead, glass, and tea that were imported into the colonies. These were items that were not produced in North America and that the colonists were only allowed to buy from Great Britain. To better collect the new taxes, the Commissioners of Customs Act of 1767 established the American Board of Customs Commissioners, which was modeled on the British Board of Customs. The American Customs Board was created because of the difficulties the British Board faced in enforcing trade regulations in the distant colonies. Five commissioners were appointed to the board, which was headquartered in Boston. The American Customs Board would generate considerable hostility in the colonies towards the British government. According to historian Oliver M. Dickerson, "The actual separation of the continental colonies from the rest of the Empire dates from the creation of this independent administrative board.” Another measure to aid in enforcement of the trade laws was the Vice Admiralty Court Act of 1768. Townshend knew that his program would be controversial in the colonies, but he argued that, "The superiority of the mother country can at no time be better exerted than now." The Townshend Acts did not create an instant uproar like the Stamp Act had done two years earlier, but before long, opposition to the program had become widespread. Tea Act (1773) The Tea Act was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain to expand the British East India Company's monopoly on the tea trade to all British Colonies, selling excess tea at a reduced price. It was passed on May 10, 1773. Previously, the East India Company had been required to sell its tea exclusively in London on which it paid a duty which averaged two shillings and six pence per pound.  Among other consequences, this had created a profitable opportunity for smugglers to import and distribute tax- free tea throughout the American colonies. The British parliament hoped that if the colonists had cheap tea available, smuggling would cease. By 1772 the Company was close to collapse due in part to contractual payments to the British government of 400,000 pounds per year, together with war and famine in India, and economic weakness in European markets. Benjamin Franklin was one of several people who had suggested things would be greatly improved if the Company were allowed to export its tea directly to the colonies without paying the taxes it was paying in London. Many Colonists opposed the Act, not so much because it rescued the East India Company, but more because it seemed to validate the last remaining duty imposed by the Townshend Acts of 1767, the oh-so-hated tea tax. Britain in turn yearned to quash the trade of smuggled tea to America. Before the Act, smugglers imported 900,000 pounds of cheap foreign tea a year. The quality of the smuggled tea did not match the quality of the dutiable East Indian Tea of which the Americans bought 562,000 pounds per year. Although the British tea was more appealing in taste, some Patriots encouraged the consumption of smuggled tea. All this however did little to damage the British tea trade. Before the Boston Tea Party occurred, the colonies did not agree with the decision to impose the Tea Act, whereby they would be acquiescing to the payment of the tea tax. In New York and Philadelphia, they sent the British ships with the tea on board back to Britain. In Charleston, the colonists left the tea on the docks to rot. The Royal Governor in Boston was determined to the leave the ships in port, even though the colonists refused to take the tea off the boat. The Boston Tea Party soon erupted, representing a turning point in Anglo-Colonial political relations. The Boston Tea Party most appalled British political opinion makers of all stripes. The action united all parties in Britain against the American radicals. After the Boston tea party, Britain decided to close down the Boston Harbor until the tea was further paid for, as provided in the Boston Port Act, first of the so-called Intolerable Acts, or Coercive Acts as they were called by the British, passed by Parliament in response to the Boston Tea Party. All this united many colonists even more in their frustrations against Britain, and was one of the many causes of the American Revolution. Boston Port Act (1774) The Boston Port Act is an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain (citation 14 Geo. III. c. 19) which became law on March 30, 1774, and is one of the measures (variously called the Intolerable Acts, the Punitive Acts or the Coercive Acts) that were designed to secure Great Britain's jurisdictions over her American dominions. After the passage of the Tea Act, the East India Company would have been able to sell tea more cheaply than American importers. American merchants organized protests, lead by Samuel Adams. Some of the protesters boarded three British ships docked in Boston Harbor and scheduled to begin unloading the cheaper tea. The protesters seized the tea and dumped it overboard. Damage estimates ran to over ten thousand pounds. The event became known as the Boston Tea Party, and it inspired several smaller such acts. In response to the event and those that followed, Parliament passed the Boston Port Act on March 31, 1774, which effectively shut down the port of Boston. Ships were prevented from mooring or docking anywhere in Boston Harbor. Any caught doing so were subject to seizure of both cargo and ship. The only exception was for ships brought in for what would today be called "humanitarian" purposes, so long as said ships paid duties at the port of Salem and took a customs official on board to ensure legal passage into Boston. Military supplies were also accepted. A response to the Boston Tea Party, it outlawed the use of the Port of Boston (by setting up a barricade/blockade) for "landing and discharging, loading or shipping, of goods, wares, and merchandise" until such time as restitution was made to the King's treasury (for customs duty lost) and to the East India Company for damages suffered. In other words, it closed Boston Port to all ships, no matter what business the ship had. Colonists objected that the Port Act punished all of Boston rather than just the individuals who had destroyed the tea, and that they were being punished without having been given an opportunity to testify in their own defense. All the citizens of Boston were angered including the Loyalists and Patriots (otherwise known as Whigs and Tories) and they all sought for aid from the other colonies. As the Port of Boston was a major source of supplies for the citizens of Massachusetts, sympathetic colonies as far away as South Carolina sent relief supplies to the settlers of Massachusetts Bay. This was the first step in the unification of the thirteen colonies. The First Continental Congress was convened in Philadelphia on September 5, 1774, to coordinate a colonial response to the Port Act and the other Coercive Acts. Massachusetts government Act (1774) The Massachusetts Government Act (citation 14 Geo. III c. 45) was passed by the Parliament of Great Britain and became a law on May 20, 1774. The act is one of the Intolerable Acts (also Repressive Acts and/or the Coercive Acts), designed to suppress dissent and restore order in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. In the wake of the Boston Tea Party, Parliament launched a legislative offensive against Massachusetts to control its errant behavior. British officials realized part of their inability to control the colony was rooted in the highly independent nature of local government there. The Massachusetts Government Act abrogated the colony's charter and provided for a greater amount of royal control. Massachusetts had been unique among the colonies in its ability to elect members of its executive council. This act took away that right and instead gave the king sole power to appoint and dismiss the council. Additionally, many civil offices that had previously been chosen by election were now to be appointed by the royal governor. Town meetings were forbidden without consent of the governor, except for one regularly scheduled annual meeting. As Lord North explained to Parliament, the purpose of the act was "to take the executive power from the hands of the democratic part of government". Patriot leaders in Massachusetts responded to the act by creating the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in October 1774, which acted as an independent government in the early stages of the American Revolution. Administration of justice act (1774) Worried by the courts that convened in America and in Massachusetts in particular, and their bias toward the colonists over their British governors, on May 20, 1774, the Parliament passed the Administration of Justice Act. It provided that the governor of Massachusetts had the authority to remove any trial proceeding to another colony or to Great Britain; that witnesses could be compelled to travel to the trial; and that in any case, bail was required even in capital cases if the defendant contended that the crime of which they were accused was committed while acting in an official capacity, such as the suppression of riots. The act purports to induce public servants to perform their duties by removing fear of prosecution, a principle that extends to the United States, where any public servants are immune from prosecution for certain acts; however, the provision that the trial would be removed to Great Britain made it impossible to try persons who deserved to be tried; the compelling of witnesses to travel to Great Britain further made trial impossible (even though the Act did provide for the expenses of the witnesses to be paid). These provisions lead the colonists to rename the act the Murder Act, reflecting their fears that insurrections would be put down with deadly force. The Administration of Justice Act is one of the Intolerable Acts that lead to dissent in the American colonies and to the creation of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances in 1774. It is also known as the Impartial Administration of Justice Act. The sole purpose of The Administration of Justice Act, was aimed at protecting British officials charged with capital offenses during law enforcement by allowing them to go to England or another colony for trial. Quebec act (1774) The Quebec Act of 1774 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain (citation 14 Geo. III c. 83) setting procedures of governance in the Province of Quebec. The principal components of the act were: The province's territory was expanded to take over part of the Indian Reserve, including much of what is now southern Ontario, plus Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota. The oath of allegiance was replaced with one that no longer made reference to the Protestant faith. It guaranteed free practice of the Catholic faith. It restored the use of the French civil law for private matters while maintaining the use of the English common law for public administration, including criminal prosecution. The Act had wide-ranging effects, in Quebec itself, as well as in the Thirteen Colonies. In Quebec, English-speaking immigrants from Britain and the southern colonies objected to a variety of its provisions, which they saw as a removal of certain political freedoms. French-speaking Canadians varied in their reaction; the land-owning seigneurs and clergy were generally happy with its provisions. In the Thirteen Colonies, the Act, which had been passed in the same session of Parliament as a number of other acts designed as punishment for the Boston Tea Party and other protests, was joined to those acts as one of the Intolerable Acts. The provisions of the Quebec Act were seen as a new model for British colonial administration, which would strip the colonies of their elected assemblies, and promote the Roman Catholic faith in preference to widely-held Protestant beliefs. It also limited opportunities for colonies to expand on their western frontiers, by granting most of the Ohio Country to the province of Quebec. American colonists had concerns with the provisions of the act. The extension of the province's territory to include the Ohio Country, combined with its religious provisions, meant that residents of that territory, which already had some settlers from Virginia and other colonies, were free to profess the Roman Catholic faith. Land development companies had already been formed to drive out the Native inhabitants and exploit the territory. Many of the leaders of the American Revolution, including George Washington and Daniel Boone, were wealthy land speculators who had much to gain by establishing a new government that would not be bound by British treaties with the Indians, such as the Royal Proclamation of 1763, that recognized Indian rights to these lands. The predominantly Protestant Americans denounced the Act for promoting the growth of what they termed "papism", and for cutting back on their freedom and traditional rights. In particular, the colonial governments of New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia were angered by the unilateral assignment of the Ohio lands to Quebec, which had been granted them in their royal charters.
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