Townshend Acts

Townshend Acts


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Townshend Acts

Charles Townshend proposed a series of acts known as the Townshend Acts to raise revenue on the British colonies. England had a great amount of debt after the Seven Years War and believed that the colonists should pay their fair share of the debt since they benefited from Britain&rsquos military strength. The acts included in these acts are the:

  • Revenue Act of 1767
  • Indemnity Act
  • Commissioners of Customs Act
  • Vice Admiralty Court Act
  • New York Restraining Act.

Through these acts Britain believed it would show the colonists the power it had. Britain believed that it was there right to levy taxes on the colonies and that the colonies must comply. Unfortunately these acts were not complied with and the colonists rebelled against them. Britain dispatched British regulars to keep the peace in Boston, however they became the very trigger for rebellion. The very presence of British soldiers ignited the anger within the colonies and eventually led to the Boston Massacre.

Most of the Townshend Acts were repealed the same day of the Boston Massacre. All except the tea tax which would eventually lead to the Boston Tea Party and the commission of Thomas Gage to Boston. These acts, along with the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765 would lead to the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and to the American Revolution.


The Declaration of Independence

Taxes on glass, paint, oil, lead, paper, and tea were applied with the design of raising 㿔,000 a year for the administration of the colonies. The result was the resurrection of colonial hostilities created by the Stamp Act.

Reaction assumed revolutionary proportions in Boston, in the summer of 1768, when customs officials impounded a sloop owned by John Hancock, for violations of the trade regulations. Crowds mobbed the customs office, forcing the officials to retire to a British Warship in the Harbor. Troops from England and Nova Scotia marched in to occupy Boston on October 1, 1768. Bostonians offered no resistance. Rather they changed their tactics. They established non-importation agreements that quickly spread throughout the colonies. British trade soon dried up and the powerful merchants of Britain once again interceded on behalf of the colonies.

THE TOWNSHEND REVENUE ACT

AN ACT for granting certain duties in the British colonies and plantations in America for allowing a drawback of the duties of customs upon the exportation from this kingdom, of coffee and cocoa nuts of the produce of the said colonies or plantations for discontinuing the drawbacks payable on china earthen ware exported to America and for more effectually preventing the clandestine running of goods in the said colonies and plantations.

WHEREAS it is expedient that a revenue should be raised, in your Majesty's dominions in America, for making a more certain and adequate provision for defraying the charge of the administration of justice, and the support of civil government, in such provinces as it shall be found necessary and towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting and securing the said dominions . be it enacted. That from and after the twentieth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, there shall be raised, levied, collected, and paid, unto his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, for upon and the respective Goods here in after mentioned, which shall be imported from Great Britain into any colony or plantation in America which now is or hereafter may be, under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs, or successors, the several Rates and Duties following that is to say,

For every hundredweight avoirdupois of crown, plate, flint, and white glass, four shillings and eight pence.

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of red lead, two shillings.

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of green glass, one shilling and two pence.

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of white lead, two shillings.

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of painters colours, two shillings.

For every pound weight avoirdupois of tea, three pence.

For every ream of paper, usually called or known by the name of Atlas fine, twelve shillings. .

. and that all the monies that shall arise by the said duties (except the necessary charges of raising, collecting, levying, recovering, answering, paying, and accounting for the same) shall be applied, in the first place, in such manner as is herein after mentioned, in making a more certain and adequate provision for the charge of the administration of justice, and the support of civil government in such of the said colonies and plantations where it shall be found necessary and that the residue of such duties shall be payed into the receipt of his Majesty's exchequer, and shall be entered separate and apart from all other monies paid or payable to his Majesty . and shall be there reserved, to be from time to time disposed of by parliament towards defraying the necessary expense of defending, protecting, and securing, the British colonies and plantations in America.

And be it further enacted . That his Majesty and his successors shall be, and are hereby, impowered, from time to time, by any warrant or warrants under his or their royal sign manual or sign manuals, countersigned by the high treasurer, or any three or more of the commissioners of the treasury for the time being, to cause such monies to be applied, out of the produce of the duties granted by this act, as his Majesty, or his successors, shall think proper or necessary, for defraying the charges of the administration of justice, and the support of the civil government, within all or any of the said colonies or plantations.

And whereas by an act of parliament made in the fourteenth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for preventing frauds, and regulating abuses, in his Majesty's customs, and several other acts now in force, it is lawful for any officer of his Majesty's customs, authorized by writ of assistance under the seal of his Majesty's court of exchequer, to take a constable, headborough, or other public officer inhabiting near unto the place, and in the daytime to enter and go into any house, shop cellar, warehouse, or room or other place and, in case of resistance, to break open doors, chests, trunks, and other pakage there, to seize, and from thence to bring, any kind of goods or merchandise whatsoever prohibited or uncustomed, and to put and secure the same in his Majesty's storehouse next to the place where such seizure shall be made and whereas by an act made in the seventh and eighth years of the reign of King William the Third, intituled An act for preventing frauds, and regulating abuses, in the plantation trade, it is, amongst otherthings, enacted, that the officers for collecting and managing his Majesty's revenue, and inspecting the plantation trade, in America, shall have the same powers and authorities to enter houses or warehouses, to search or seize goods prohibited to be imported or exported into or out of any of the said plantations, or for which any duties are payable, or ought to have been paid and that the like assistance shall be given to the said officers in the execution of their office, as, by the said recited act of the fourteenth year of King Charles the Second, is provided for the officers of England: but, no authority being expressly given by the said act, made in the seventh and eighth years of the reign of King William the Third, to any particular court to grant such writs of assistance for the officers of the customs in the said plantations, it is doubted whether such officers can legally enter houses and other places on land, to search for and seize goods, in the manner directed by the said recited acts: To obviate which doubts for the future, and in order to carry the intention of the said recited acts into effectual execution, be it enacted . That from and after the said twentieth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, such writs of assistance, to authorize and impower the officers of his Majesty's customs to enter and go into any house, warehouse, shop, cellar, or other place, in the British colonies or plantations in America, to search for and seize prohibited and uncustomed goods, in the manner directed by the said recited acts, shall and may be granted by the said superior or supreme court of justice having jurisdiction within such colony or plantation respectively.


Townshend Acts - HISTORY

An act for granting certain duties in the British colonies and plantations in America for allowing a drawback of the duties of customs upon the exportation, from this kingdom, of coffee and cocoa nuts of the produce of the said colonies or plantations for discontinuing the drawbacks payable on china earthen ware exported to America and for more effectually preventing the clandestine running of goods in the colonies and plantations.

WHEREAS it is expedient that a revenue should be raised in your MajestyÂ’s dominions in America, for making a more certain and adequate provision for defraying the charge of the administration of justice, and the support of civil government, in such provinces where it shall be found necessary and towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing, the said dominions we, your MajestyÂ’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the commons of Great Britain, in parliament assembled, have therefore resolved to give and grant unto your Majesty the several rates and duties herein after mentioned and do most humbly beseech your Majesty that it may be enacted, and be it enacted by the KingÂ’s most excellent majesty, by and with the advice of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That from and after the twentieth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, there shall be raised, levied, collected, and paid, unto his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, for and upon the respective goods herein after mentioned, which shall be imported from Great Britain into any colony or plantation in America which now is, or hereafter may be, under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs, or successors, the several rates and duties following that is to say,

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of crown, plate, flint, and white glass, four shillings and eight pence.

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of green glass, one shilling and two pence.

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of red lead, two shillings.

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of white lead, two shillings.

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of painters colours, two shillings.

For every pound weight avoirdupois of tea, three pence.

For every ream of paper, usually called or known by the name of Atlas Fine, twelve shillings.

For every ream of paper called Atlas Ordinary, six shillings.

For every ream of paper called Bastard, or Double Copy, one shilling and six pence.

For every single ream of blue paper for sugar bakers, ten pence halfpenny

For every ream of paper called Blue Royal, one shilling and six pence.

For every bundle of brown paper containing forty quires, not made in Great Britain, six pence.

For every ream of paper called Brown Cap, not made in Great Britain, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Brown Large Cap, made in Great Britain, four pence halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Small Ordinary Brown, made in Great Britain, three pence.

For every bundle, containing forty quires, of paper called Whited Brown, made in Great Britain, four pence halfpenny.

For every ream of cartridge paper, one shilling and one penny halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Chancery Double, one shilling and six pence.

For every ream of paper called Genoa Crown Fine, on shilling and one penny halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Genoa Crown Second, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called German Crown, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Fine Printing Crown, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Second Ordinary Printing Crown, six pence three farthings.

For every ream of paper called Crown Fine, made in Great Britain, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Crown Second, made in Great Britain, six pence three farthings.

For every ream of paper called Demy Fine, not made in Great Britain, three shillings.

For every ream of paper called Demy Second, not made in Great Britain, one shilling and

For every ream of paper called Demy Fine, made in Great Britain, one shilling and one penny halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Demy Second, made in Great Britain, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Demy Printing, one shilling and three pence.

For every ream of paper called Genoa Demy Fine, one shilling and six pence.

For every ream of paper called Genoa Demy Second, one shilling and one penny halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called German Demy, one shilling and one penny halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Elephant Fine, six shillings.

For every ream of paper called Elephant Ordinary, two shillings and five pence farthing.

For every ream of paper called Genoa Fools Cap Fine, one shilling and one penny halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Genoa Fools Cap Second, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called German Fools Cap, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Fine Printing Fools Cap, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Second Ordinary Printing Fools Cap, six pence three farthings.

For every ream of any other paper called Fools Cap Fine, not made in Great Britain, one shilling and ten pence halfpenny.

For every ream of any other paper called Fools Cap Fine Second, not made in Great Britain, one shilling and six pence.

For every ream of paper Fools Cap Fine, made in Great Britain, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Fools Cap Second, made in Great Britain, six pence three farthings.

For every ream of paper called Imperial Fine, twelve shillings.

For every ream of paper called Second Writing Imperial, eight shillings and three pence.

For every ream of paper called German Lombard, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Medium Fine, four shillings and six pence.

For every ream of paper called Genoa Medium, one shilling and ten pence halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Second Writing Medium, three shillings.

For every ream of painted paper, not made in Great Britain, six shillings.

For every ream of paper called Fine Large Post, one shilling and ten pence halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Small Post, one shilling and one penny halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Fine Genoa Pot, six pence three farthings.

For every ream of paper called Second Genoa Pot, six pence three farthings.

For every ream of other paper called Superfine Pot, not made in Great Britain, one shilling and six pence.

For every ream of other paper called Second Fine Pot, not made in Great Britain, one shilling and one penny halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Ordinary Pot, not made in Great Britain, six pence three farthings.

For every ream of paper called Fine Pot, made in Great Britain, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Second Pot, made in Great Britain, four pence halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Super Royal Fine, nine shillings.

For every ream of paper called Royal Fine, six shillings.

For every ream of paper called Fine Holland Royal, two shillings and five pence farthing.

For every ream of paper called Fine Holland Second, one shilling and six pence.

For every ream of paper called Second Fine Holland Royal, one shilling and six pence.

For every ream of paper called Ordinary Royal, nine pence.

For every ream of paper called Genoa Royal, two shillings and five pence farthing.

For every ream of paper called Second Writing Royal, four shillings and one penny halfpenny.

For every ream of paper called Second Writing Super Royal, six shillings.

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of paste-boards, mill-boards, and scale-boards, not made in Great Britain, three shillings and nine pence.

For every hundred weight avoirdupois of paste-boards, mill-boards, and scale-boards, made in Great Britain, two shillings and three pence.

And for and upon all paper which shall be printed, painted, or stained, in Great Britain, to serve for hangings or other uses, three farthings for every yard square, over and above the duties payable for such paper by this act, if the same had not been printed, painted, or stained and after those rates respectively for any greater or less quantity.

II. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all other paper (not being particularly rated and charged in this act) shall pay the several and respective duties that are charged by this act, upon such paper as is nearest above in size and goodness to such unrated paper.

III. And be it declared and enacted by the authority aforesaid, That a ream of paper, chargeable by this act, shall be understood to consist of twenty quires, and each quire of twenty four sheets.

IV. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said rates and duties, charged by this act upon goods imported into any British American colony or plantation, shall be deemed, and are hereby declared to be, sterling money of Great Britain and shall be collected, recovered, and paid to the amount of the value which such nominal sums bear in Great Britain and that such monies may be received and taken, according to the proportion and value of five shillings and six pence the ounce in silver and shall be raised, levied, collected, paid, and recovered, in the same manner and form, and by such rules, ways, and means, and under such penalties and forfeitures, as any other duties, now payable to his Majesty upon goods imported into the said colonies or plantations, may be raised, levied, collected, paid, and recovered, by any act or acts of parliament now in force, as fully and effectually, to all intents and purposes, as if the several clauses, powers, directions, penalties, and forfeitures, relating thereto, were particularly repeated, and again enacted, in the body of this present act: and that all the monies that shall arise by the said duties (except the necessary charges of raising, collecting, levying, recovering, answering, paying, and accounting for the same) shall be applied, in the first place, in such manner as is herein after mentioned, in making a more certain and adequate provision for the charge of the administration of justice, and the support of civil government, in such of the said colonies and plantations where it shall be found necessary and that the residue of such duties shall be paid into the receipt of his MajestyÂ’s exchequer, and shall be entered separate and apart from all other monies paid or payable to his Majesty, his heirs, or successors and shall be there reserved, to be from time to time disposed of by parliament towards defraying the necessary expences of defending, protecting, and securing, the British colonies and plantations in America.

V. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That his Majesty and his successors shall be, and are hereby, impowered, from time to time, by any warrant or warrants under his or their royal sign manual or sign manuals, countersigned by the high treasurer, or any three or more of the commissioners of the treasury for the time being, to cause such monies to be applied, out of the produce of the duties granted by this act, as his Majesty, or his successors, shall think proper or necessary, for defraying the charges of the administration of justice, and the support of the civil government, within all or any of the said colonies or plantations.

VI. And whereas the allowing a drawback of all the duties of customs upon the exportation, from this kingdom, of coffee and cocoa nuts, the growth of the British dominions in America, may be a means of encouraging the growth of coffee and cocoa in the said dominions be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twentieth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, upon the exportation of any coffee or cocoa nuts, of the growth or produce of any British colony or plantation in America, from this kingdom as merchandize, the whole duties of customs, payable upon the importation of such coffee or cocoa nuts, shall be drawn back and repaid in such manner, and under such rules, regulations, penalties, and forfeitures, as any drawback or allowance, payable out of the duties of customs upon the exportation of such coffee or cocoa nuts, was, could, or might be paid, before the passing of this act any law, custom, or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding.

VII. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no drawback shall be allowed for any china earthen ware sold, after the passing of this act, at the sale of the united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, which shall be entered for exportation from Great Britain to any part of America any law, custom, or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding.

VIII. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any china earthen ware sold, after the passing of this act, at the sale of the said united company, shall be entered for exportation to any part of America as china earthen ware that had been sold at the sale of the said company before that time or, if any china earthen ware shall be entered for exportation to any parts beyond the seas, other than to some part of America, in order to obtain any drawback thereon, and the said china earthen ware shall nevertheless be carried to any part of America, and landed there contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act that then, in each and every such case, the drawback shall be forfeited and the merchant or other person making such entry, and the master or person taking the charge of the ship or vessel on board which the said goods shall be loaden for exportation, shall forfeit double the amount of the drawback paid, or to be paid, for the same, and also treble the value of the said goods one moiety to and for the use of his Majesty, his heirs, and successors and the other moiety to such officer of the customs as shall sue for the same to be prosecuted, sued for, and recovered, in such manner and form, and by the same rules and regulations, as other penalties inflicted for offences against any laws relating to the customs may be prosecuted, sued for, and recovered, by any act or acts of parliament now in force.

IX. And for the more effectual preventing the clandestine running of goods in the British dominions in America, be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twentieth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, the master or other person having or taking the charge or command of every ship or vessel arriving in any British colony or plantation in America shall, before he proceeds with his vessel to the place of unlading, come directly to the custom house for the port or district where he arrives, and make a just and true entry, upon oath, before the collector and comptroller, or other principal officer of the customs there, of the burthen, contents, and lading of such ship or vessel, with the particular marks, numbers, qualities, and contents, of every parcel of goods therein laden, to the best of his knowledge also where and in what port she took in her lading of what country built how manned who was master during the voyage, and who are owners thereof and whether any, and what goods, during the course of such voyage, had or had not been discharged out of such ship or vessel, and where: and the master or other person having or taking the charge or command of every ship or vessel, going out from any British colony or plantation in America, before he shall take in, or suffer to be taken into or laden on board any such ship or vessel, any goods, wares, or merchadizes, to be exported, shall, in like manner, enter and report outwards such ship or vessel, with her name and burthen, of what country built, and how manned, with the names of the master and owners thereof, and to what port or place he intends to pass or sail: and before he shall depart with such ship or vessel out of any such colony or plantation, he shall also bring and deliver unto the collector and comptroller, or other principal officer of the customs at the port or place where he shall lade, a content in writing, under his hand, of the name of every merchant, or other person who shall have laden, or put on board any such ship or vessel, any goods or merchandize, together with the marks and numbers of such goods or merchandize: and such master or person having or taking the charge or command of every such ship or vessel, either coming into , or going out of, any British colony or plantation as aforesaid, whether such ship or vessel shall be laden or in ballast, or otherwise, shall likewise publickly, in the open custom house, to the best of his knowledge, answer upon oath to such questions as shall be demanded of him by the collector and comptroller, or other principal officer of the customs for such port or place, concerning such ship or vessel, and the destination of her voyage, or concerning any goods or merchandize that shall or may be laden on board her, upon forfeiture of one hundred pound sterling money of Great Britain, for each and every default or neglect to be sued for, prosecuted, recovered, and divided, in the same manner and form, by the same rules and regulations in all respects, as other pecuniary penalties, for offences against the laws relating to the customs or trade of his MajestyÂ’s colonies in America, may, by any act or acts of parliament now in force, be prosecuted, sued for, recovered, and divided.

X. And whereas by an act of parliament made in the fourteenth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for preventing frauds, and regulating abuses, in his MajestyÂ’s customs, and several other acts now in force, it is lawful for any officer of his MajestyÂ’s customs, authorized by writ of assistance under the seal of his majestyÂ’s court or exchequer, to take a constable, headborough, or other public officer inhabiting near unto the place, and in the day-time to enter and go into any house, shop, cellar, warehouse, or room or other place, and, in case of resistance, to break open doors, chests, trunks, and other package there, to seize, and from thence to bring, any kinds of goods or merchandize whatsoever prohibited or uncustomed, and to put and secure the same in his MajestyÂ’s store-house next to the place where such seizure shall be made: and whereas by an act made in the seventh and eighth years of the reign of King William the Third, intituled, An act for preventing frauds, and regulating abuses, in the plantation trade, it is, amongst other things, enacted, that the officers for collecting and managing his MajestyÂ’s revenue, and inspecting the plantation trade, in America, shall have the same powers and authorities to enter houses or warehouses, to search for and seize goods prohibited to be imported or exported into or out of any of the said plantations, or for which any duties are payable, or ought to have been paid and that the like assistance shall be given to the said officers in the execution of their office, as, by the said recited act of the fourteenth year of King Charles the Second, is provided for the officers in England: but, no authority being expressly given by the said act, made in the seventh and eighth years of the reign of King William the Third, to any particular court to grant such writs of assistance for the officers of the customs in the said plantations, it is doubted whether such officers can legally enter houses and other places on land, to search for and seize goods, in the manner directed by the said recited acts: To obviate which doubts for the future, and in order to carry the intention of the said recited acts into effectual execution, be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twentieth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, such writs of assistance, to authorize and impower the officer of his MajestyÂ’s customs to enter and go into any house, warehouse, shop, cellar, or other place, in the British colonies of plantations of America, to search for and seize prohibited or uncustomed goods, in the manner directed by the said recited acts, shall and may be granted by the said superior or supreme courts of justice having jurisdiction within such colony or plantation respectively.

XI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any action or suit shall be commenced either in Great Britain or America, against any person or persons for any thing done in pursuance of this act, the defendant or defendants in such action or suit may plead the general issue, and give this act, and the special matter , in evidence at any trial to be had thereupon and that the same was done in pursuance and by the authority of this act: and if it shall appear so to have been done, the jury shall find for the defendant or defendants: and if the plaintiff shall be nonsuited, or discontinue his action after the defendant or defendants shall have appeared, or if judgement shall be given upon any verdict or demurrer against the plaintiff the defendant or defendants shall recover treble costs, and have the like remedy for the same as defendants have in other cases by law.

An act for discontinuing the duties on logwood exported for taking off the duties on Succus Liquoritiae imported, and for granting other duties in lieu thereof for explaining such parts of two acts made in the tenth and twelfth years of the reign of Queen Anne, as relate to certain duties on silks, printed, painted, or stained, in Great Britain for granting a duty upon the exportation of such rice as shall have been imported duty-free, in pursuance of an act made in this session of parliament: and for more effectually preventing the wear of foreign lace and needle work which are prohibited to be imported into this kingdom,

WHEREAS the discontinuing the duty payable upon the exportation of logwood from this kingdom, may be a means of encouraging the importation thereof May it please your Majesty that it may be enacted, and be it enacted by the KingÂ’s most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That from and after the twentieth day of July, one thousand seven and sixty seven, the duty now payable upon logwood, exported from this kingdom to any parts beyond the seas, shall cease, determine, and be no longer paid or payable any law, custom or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding.

II. Provided always, and it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That due entries shall be made at the custom-house of all such logwood, upon which the duty is taken off by this act and such logwood shall be shipped outwards in the presence of the proper officers of the customs appointed for that purpose and the exportation thereof shall be in British built ships or vessels, navigated according to law and the said logwood shall be liable to the same duty as if this act had never been made any thing herein before contained to the contrary notwithstanding.

III. And whereas Succus Liquoritiae is rated in the book of rates made in the twelfth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, at one shilling per pound weight according to which value, the duties now payable upon Succus Liquoritiae, imported into this kingdom, amount to seven pounds, two shillings, and six pence, for every hundred weight thereof: and whereas it has been found, by experience, that the said duties are too high which has induced many persons to import clandestinely great quantities of such Succus Liquoritiae, to the prejudice of the revenue and the fair trader: For remedy whereof, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the twentieth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, the several duties payable upon the importation of Succus Liquoritiae shall cease, determine, and be no longer paid and in lieu thereof, there shall be paid and payable to his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, for every hundred weight avoirdupois of Succus Liquoritiae, which from and after the said twentieth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, shall be imported into Great Britain, the sum of thirty shillings.

IV. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said duty by this act granted shall be paid down in ready money, without any discount or allowance and shall not be afterwards drawn back or repaid upon the exportation of the same goods and shall be raised, levied, collected, and paid, in the same manner and form, and by such rules, ways, and means, and under such penalties and forfeitures, as the duties upon Succus Liquoritiae hereby determined, or any of them, might have been raised, levied, recovered, and paid, if the same, or any of them, had continued.

V. And it is hereby enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the duties to arise upon the importation of Succus Liquoritiae pursuant to this act (the necessary charges of management excepted) shall be appropriated and applied, as near as may be, to the same uses and purposes as the present duties upon drugs, rated by the book of rates made in the twelfth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, are applicable, or ought to be applied.

VI. And whereas by an act passed in the tenth year of the reign of her late majesty Queen Anne, intituled, An act for laying several duties upon all sope and paper made in Great Britain, or imported into the same and upon chequered and striped linen imported and upon certain silks, callicoes, linens, and stuffs, printed, painted, or stained and upon several kinds of stampt vellum, parchment, and paper, and upon certain printed papers, pamphlets, and advertisements for raising the sum of one million eight hundred thousand pounds, by way of a lottery, towards her MajestyÂ’s supply and for licensing an additional number of hackney chairs and for charging certain stocks of cards and dice and for better securing her MajestyÂ’s duties to arise in the office of stamp duties by licences for marriages, and otherwise and for relief of persons who have not claimed their lottery tickets in due time, or have lost exchequer bills or lottery tickets and for borrowing money upon stock (part of the capital of the South Sea company) for the use of the public it is, amongst other things, enacted, that there should be raised, levied, collected, and paid, to and for the use of her Majesty her heirs, and successors, for and upon all silks, calicoes, linens, and stuffs, of what kind soever, which, at any time or times, within or during the term of thirty two years, to be reckoned from the twentieth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and twelve, should be printed, stained, painted, or dyed, in Great Britain (such calicoes, linens, and fustians, as should be dyed throughout of one colour only and stuffs made of woollen, or whereof the greatest part in value should be woollen always excepted) the several and respective rates and duties herein after expressed (over and above the duties payable upon the importation of them, or any of them) that is to say,

For and upon all silks so printed, stained, or painted, in Great Britain (silk handkerchiefs excepted) the sum of six pence for every yard in length, reckoning half a yard for the breadth.

And for all silk handkerchiefs so printed, stained, or painted, in Great Britain, the sum of three pence for every yard square and in those proportions for wider or narrower silks.

And whereas by an act passed in the third year of the reign of his late majesty King George the First, intituled, And act for redeeming the duties and revenues which were settled to pay off principal and interest on the orders made forth at four lottery acts passed in the ninth and tenth years of her late MajestyÂ’s reign and for redeeming certain annuities payable on orders out of the hereditary excise, according to a former act in that behalf and for establishing a general yearly fund, not only for the future payment of annuities at several rates, to be payable and transferrable at the bank of England, and redeemable by parliament, but also to raise monies for such proprietors of the said orders as shall choose to be paid their principal and arrears of interest in ready money and for making good such other deficiencies and payments as in this act are mentioned and for taking off the duties on linseed imported, and British linen exported the said several rates and duties are made perpetual: And whereas by an act of parliament made in the twelfth year of the reign of her said late majesty Queen Anne, intituled, An act for laying additional duties on sope and paper and upon certain linens, silks, callicoes, and stuffs and upon starch, and exported coals and upon stampt vellum, parchment, and paper, for raising one million four hundred thousand pounds, by way of a lottery, for her MajestyÂ’s supply and for allowances on exporting made wares of leather, sheep skins, and lamb skins and for distribution of four thousand pounds due to the officers and seamen for gun money and to adjust the property of tickets in former lotteries and touching certain shares of stock in the capital of the South Sea company and for appropriating the monies granted to her Majesty it is, amongst other things, enacted, That there should be raised, levied, collected, and paid, to and for the use of her Majesty, her heirs, and successors, for and upon all silks, callicoes, linens, and stuffs, of what kind soever, which, at any time or times within or during the term of thirty two years, to be reckoned from the second day of August, one thousand seven hundred and fourteen, should be printed, stained, painted, or dyed, in Great Britain (such callicoes, linens, and fustians, as shall be dyed throughout of one colour only and stuffs made of woollen, or whereof the greatest parts in value shall be woollen always excepted) the several and respective rates and duties therein and herein after expressed (over and above all other duties payable for the same, or any of them) that is to say,

For and upon all silks so printed, stained, or painted, within or during the term aforesaid, in Great Britain (silk handkerchiefs excepted) the sum of six pence for every yard in length, reckoning half a yard for the breadth.

And for all silk handkerchiefs so printed, stained, or painted, within or during the term aforesaid, in Great Britain, the sum of one penny for every yard square and in those proportions for wider or narrower silks.

And whereas by an act of parliament made in the sixth year of the reign of his said late majesty King George the First, intituled, An act for enabling the South Sea company to encrease their present capital and fund, by redeeming such publick debts and and incumbrances as are therein mentioned and for raising money, to be applied for lessening several of the publick debts and incumbrances and for calling in the present exchequer bills remaining uncancelled and for making forth new bills in lieu thereof, to be circulated and exchanged upon demand at or near the exchequer the said several rates and duties last mentioned are made perpetual: And whereas some doubts have arisen, whether ribbands and silks so printed, stained, or painted, being less than half a yard in breadth, are within the meaning of the said recited acts, and liable to the said several rates and duties by the said acts imposed: Now, for obviating all such doubts, be it declared by the authority aforesaid, That all ribbands and silks printed, stained, or painted, in Great Britain, though less than half a yard in breadth, are, within the true intent and meaning of the said acts, liable to the several rates and duties by the said two first mentioned acts imposed, according to the proportions in which such ribbands or silks are or shall be made.

VII. And whereas by an act made in this present session of parliament, intituled, An act for allowing the free importation of rice, sago powder, and vermicelli, into this kingdom, from his MajestyÂ’s colonies in North America, for a limited time, it is, amongst other things, enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for any person or persons to import into Great Britain, from any of his MajestyÂ’s colonies in North America, at any time or times before the first day of December, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, any rice, without the payment of any subsidy, custom, duty, or imposition whatsoever: Now, to the end the advantage intended to this kingdom, by the said recited act, may not be evaded by the exportation of such rice into foreign parts we your MajestyÂ’s most dutiful and loyal subjects the commons of Great Britain, in parliament assembled, do give and grant unto your Majesty, and do humbly beseech your Majesty that it may be enacted and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That for and upon all rice which hath been or shall be, imported into this kingdom duty-free, by virtue of the said recited act, and which shall be again exported thereout, there shall be paid and answered to his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, a subsidy of poundage of six pence in the pound, according to the value or rate set upon rice imported, in the book of rates referred to by the act of the twelfth year of King Charles the Second which said subsidy of six pence in the pound upon such rice so exported, shall be raised, levied, collected, and recovered, by such ways and means, and under such rules, regulations, penalties, and forfeitures, as the subsidy or poundage for any goods or merchandizes exported from Great Britain may be raised, levied, collected, or recovered, by any act of parliament now in force, as fully and effectually, to all intents and purposes, as if the several clauses, powers, directions, penalties, and forfeitures, relating thereto, were particularly repeated and again enacted into the body of this present act.

VIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said duties granted by this act upon rice exported shall (the necessary charges of management excepted) be paid into the receipt of his MajestyÂ’s exchequer, and be there reserved for the disposition of parliament.

IX. And whereas the permitting foreign lace made of silk or thread and foreign needle-work, to be worn or used in Great Britain, after the same had been seized and condemned, gives the unfair dealer in those commodities, opportunity to secure from seizures great quantities thereof, which are clandestinely imported: Now to prevent a practice so very prejudicial to the publick revenue, and the manufacturers of such goods in this kingdom be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the seventh day of July, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, no foreign lace made of silk or thread, or foreign needle-work, which shall have been, or shall be, seized and condemned in Great Britain, for any cause of forfeiture, shall be sold or delivered out of any custom-house warehouse wherein the same shall be secured, otherwise than on condition to be exported under the like securities, regulations, and restrictions, penalties, and forfeitures, as are prescribed by law, for the due exportation of East India goods prohibited to be worn or used in Great Britain any law, custom, or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.

X. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any action or suit shall be commenced against any person or persons for any thing done in pursuance of this act, the defendant or defendants, in any such action or suit, may plead the general issue, and give this act, and the special matter, in evidence, at any trial to be had thereupon and that the same was done in pursuance and by the authority of this act and if it shall appear so to have been done, the jury shall find for the defendant or defendants and if the plaintiff shall be nonsuited, or discontinue his action after the defendant or defendants shall have appeared or if judgement shall be given upon any verdict or demurrer against the plaintiff the defendant or defendants shall recover treble costs, and have the like remedy for the same, as any defendant or defendants hath or have in other cases by law.


“Address to the Ladies” Verse from The Boston Post-Boy and Advertiser

This verse, which ran in a Boston newspaper in November 1767, highlights how women were encouraged to take political action by boycotting British goods. Notice that the writer especially encourages women to avoid British tea (Bohea and Green Hyson) and linen, and to manufacture their own homespun cloth. Building on the protest of the 1765 Stamp Act by the Daughters of Liberty, the non-importation movement of 1767–1768 mobilized women as political actors.

Young ladies in town, and those that live round,

Let a friend at this season advise you:

Since money’s so scarce, and times growing worse

Strange things may soon hap and surprize you:

First then, throw aside your high top knots of pride

Wear none but your own country linnen

of economy boast, let your pride be the most

What, if homespun they say is not quite so gay

As brocades, yet be not in a passion,

For when once it is known this is much wore in town,

One and all will cry out, ’tis the fashion!

And as one, all agree that you’ll not married be

To such as will wear London Fact’ry:

But at first sight refuse, tell’em such you do chuse

As encourage our own Manufact’ry.

No more Ribbons wear, nor in rich dress appear,

Love your country much better than fine things,

Begin without passion, ’twill soon be the fashion

To grace your smooth locks with a twine string.

Throw aside your Bohea, and your Green Hyson Tea,

And all things with a new fashion duty

Procure a good store of the choice Labradore,

For there’ll soon be enough here to suit ye

These do without fear and to all you’ll appear

Fair, charming, true, lovely, and cleaver

Tho’ the times remain darkish, young men may be sparkish.

And love you much stronger than ever. !O!

In Massachusetts in 1768, Samuel Adams wrote a letter that became known as the Massachusetts Circular . Sent by the Massachusetts House of Representatives to the other colonial legislatures, the letter laid out the unconstitutionality of taxation without representation and encouraged the other colonies to again protest the taxes by boycotting British goods. Adams wrote, “It is, moreover, [the Massachusetts House of Representatives] humble opinion, which they express with the greatest deference to the wisdom of the Parliament, that the acts made there, imposing duties on the people of this province, with the sole and express purpose of raising a revenue, are infringements of their natural and constitutional rights because, as they are not represented in the Parliament, his Majesty’s Commons in Britain, by those acts, grant their property without their consent.” Note that even in this letter of protest, the humble and submissive tone shows the Massachusetts Assembly’s continued deference to parliamentary authority. Even in that hotbed of political protest, it is a clear expression of allegiance and the hope for a restoration of “natural and constitutional rights.”

Great Britain’s response to this threat of disobedience served only to unite the colonies further. The colonies’ initial response to the Massachusetts Circular was lukewarm at best. However, back in Great Britain, the secretary of state for the colonies—Lord Hillsborough—demanded that Massachusetts retract the letter, promising that any colonial assemblies that endorsed it would be dissolved. This threat had the effect of pushing the other colonies to Massachusetts’s side. Even the city of Philadelphia, which had originally opposed the Circular, came around.

The Daughters of Liberty once again supported and promoted the boycott of British goods. Women resumed spinning bees and again found substitutes for British tea and other goods. Many colonial merchants signed non-importation agreements, and the Daughters of Liberty urged colonial women to shop only with those merchants. The Sons of Liberty used newspapers and circulars to call out by name those merchants who refused to sign such agreements sometimes they were threatened by violence. For instance, a broadside from 1769–1770 reads:

WILLIAM JACKSON,

an IMPORTER

at the BRAZEN HEAD,

North Side of the TOWN-HOUSE,

and Opposite the Town-Pump, [in]

Corn-hill, BOSTON

It is desired that the SONS

and DAUGHTERS of LIBERTY,

would not buy any one thing of

him, for in so doing they will bring

disgrace upon themselves, and their

Posterity, for ever and ever, AMEN.

The boycott in 1768–1769 turned the purchase of consumer goods into a political gesture. It mattered what you consumed. Indeed, the very clothes you wore indicated whether you were a defender of liberty in homespun or a protector of parliamentary rights in superfine British attire.


What Was the Cause of the Townshend Act, and What Were Its Effects?

The cause of the Townshend Acts, a series of measures imposed upon the American colonists, was the British desire to raise revenue, punish the colonists and assert the authority of the British Parliament. The effects of the acts were widespread dissatisfaction, protests, a boycott of British goods and other civil unrest leading up to the Boston Massacre, at which five American civilians were killed by British soldiers.

Charles Townshend, the chancellor of the Eschequer, proposed the series of measures in 1767. The Revenue Act imposed duties on paint, paper, lead, glass and tea imported into the American colonies. It also allowed customs officials to enter private houses and businesses to search for smuggled goods. The Indemnity Act allowed tea from other colonies to be re-exported cheaply from England to America. The Suspending Act effectively dissolved the New York Assembly for failing to finance the quartering of British troops. The Commissioners of Customs Act strengthened the power of the customs offices to collect revenue and enforce customs laws.

These acts contradicted the colonial principle of self-government and provoked so much opposition that in the end, most of the acts were repealed. An uneasy truce and suspension of hostilities ensued. However, the duty on tea was retained, which eventually led to the Boston Tea Party and the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.


The Townshend Acts

After the Stamp Act was repealed, the relationship between England and the American colonies was still shaky. "Nervous tension" is the term that best describes it. Many issues remained unresolved. It was hard for England to enforce regulations from across the sea. Still, the British Parliament did not want the colonists to think that they were giving up authority over the colonies. So, immediately after repealing the Stamp Act, Parliament issued the Declaratory Act.

The Declaratory Act stated that Parliament had complete control over the governing of the colonies in &ldquoall cases whatsoever.&rdquo The British were not willing to give up any control to the colonies. In the colonies, leaders had been glad when the Stamp Act was repealed, but the Declaratory Act was a new threat to their independence. It was 1766, and to most colonists, the ability of England to tax the colonies without giving them representation in Parliament was seen as disgraceful. The rebellion against the Stamp Act was proof of this view. But the right for Parliament to make laws in other areas was acceptable. The intent of the Declaratory Act was not clear, though. "All cases whatsoever" could surely mean the power to tax. Colonial leaders waited anxiously for the issue to resurface.


As Britain continued to impose taxes on the colonists, reactions turned violent toward tories (colonists loyal to Britain) and British officials.

Sure enough, the "truce" did not last long. Back in London, Charles Townshend persuaded the House of Commons to tax the Americans once again. This time, though, there would be an import tax on such items as glass, paper, lead, and tea.

The Ties that Bind

Charles Townshend had two reasons for introducing new taxes into Parliament. He wanted to collect money from the colonies, but he also wanted more power for Britain. His idea was to use the taxes to pay the colonial governors. This was a big change. Before, the colonies paid their own governors. That way, if people were not satisfied with the governor&rsquos leadership, they could cut his salary. The legislature could basically blackmail the governor into doing what they wanted. Once the salary process changed, the governors could be free to oppose the colonial assemblies. Instead, they would be more tied to Parliament.


Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, sponsored the Townshend Acts. He believed that the Townshend Acts would assert British authority over the colonies as well as increase revenue.

Townshend also created an American Board of Customs Commissioners. Officials from this group would be stationed in the colonies to enforce tax policy on imports and other goods. Customs officials received bonuses for every smuggler that got convicted, so they had reasons to want to catch and capture colonists.

Finally, Townshend began putting pressure on the colonies to obey and support Britain. He even suspended the New York legislature because they did not have enough supplies for the British troops stationed there. As the pressure increased, it seemed like a conflict was bound to happen.

You are Charles Townshend. Write a short letter to the New York legislature telling them why you have decided to shut them down.

Just as they did during the Stamp Act, colonists reacted to the use of force from Britain. Not being allowed to import goods meant that smuggling increased. Tax collectors and merchants who violated the boycotts were often harassed. The colonial assemblies sprang into action to try to improve conditions for their people.

You are a smuggler talking to your 12-year-old son about your business. Do you encourage him to follow in your footsteps? Why?

Take It Back

In a letter to the other colonies, the Massachusetts legislature recommended that the 13 colonies take action against Parliament. As a response, Parliament voted to dissolve the Massachusetts legislature. But colonial assemblies reacted strongly and voiced support of Massachusetts by supporting the letter. Feelings of disgust for Britain were growing.

More Information on the Massachusetts Circular Letter

Samuel Adams wrote the Massachusetts Circular Letter in 1768. The letter was a petition inviting all of the colonies to unite against Britain. In it, Massachusetts said that it was wrong for England to tax the colonies without giving them representatives in Parliament &mdash &ldquotaxation without representation.&rdquo When news of the letter came to England, Lord Hillsborough warned colonial legislatures against promoting any such ideas. He threatened to remove powers from any colony that joined Massachusetts' campaign. Even so, many legislative assemblies throughout the colonies, including New York, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, spoke out against &ldquotaxation without representation&rdquo and accepted the petition written by Samuel Adams.

The more rules the British tried to enforce, the more the colonists rebelled and resisted. By 1769, British merchants began to feel the sting of nonimportation. They couldn&rsquot possibly make a living. In April 1770, news of a partial repeal reached America. But at least one import tax was still being collected and enforced: the tax on tea.


A Brief History of Townsend

Originally part of an area called Wistequassuck by the Native Americans, the land which eventually became Townsend, Massachusetts was first surveyed by Jonathan Danforth in 1676. The land had been granted to Judge William Hawthorn of Salem as a political thank-you gift. Although the Judge never saw the land, it was known as “Hawthorn’s Grant” for many years.

By 1719, the House of Representatives decided to divide an area called Turkey Hill, of which Hawthorn’s Grant was a part, into North Town (present day Townsend) and South Town (present day Lunenburg). The first meetinghouse to serve the 200 settlers of North Town was built in 1730 on Meetinghouse Hill, and on June 29, 1732 the town was incorporated as Townshend. It was named after Charles Townshend, the second Viscount of Raynham, and a former British Secretary of State (the viscount was also known as Turnip Townshend for introducing England to the large-scale cultivation of said vegetable).

The Second Townsend Meetinghouse, c. 1771 and now the United Methodist Church.

Townsend soon outgrew the first meetinghouse, so in 1771 a new and larger one was erected just behind the first one. After the Revolutionary War growth in the town began to shift to the west. This shift combined with earlier boundary changes moved the geographic center of the town. The people wanted their meetinghouse more centrally located so the second meetinghouse, the larger building, was moved in 1804 to Townsend Center. The first floor of the meetinghouse was used as the town hall until the 1890s, when Memorial Hall was built to commemorate those residents who fought in the Civil War. Today, the meetinghouse is home to the Methodist Church. (The church has been renovated recently, and the old slave pews were preserved.)

In 1733, a dam was built on the Squannacook River at the place now known as Townsend Harbor (“harbor” originally referring to a place of refuge, comfort, security, or a seat of local business, though it also is located on the pond created in building the dam and is now materially a “harbor” of sorts). A gristmill and sawmill were erected near the dam. The Harbor was the first part of Townsend to be settled even prior to the incorporation of the town. A tavern was built by the Conant family around 1720, known as the Old Mansion or Conant House. Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, Townsend Harbor was the industrial heart of the town. The Conant House, the Grist Mill, the Cooperage and the Reed House all date from the late 18th and early 19th centuries and can still be seen today around Harbor Pond.

The Spaulding Cooperage as seen in the late nineteenth century when the South Street bridge was a simple wooden structure spanning the Squannacook River.

Up until 1744, the only schooling that most children received was what their parents could give them at home. However, in 1744 the town voted to raise and appropriate 20 pounds for the support of three schools. As the years passed and Townsend grew, small school houses were built throughout the town. Some are still standing today. In the late 19th century, the large white building on the corner of School, Howard, and Highland Streets — now home to Evans on the Common — was built and used as a school. In the 1830’s, the West Village Female Seminary was built, which helped West Townsend become the cultural center of the town. Unfortunately, it eventually failed for financial reasons.

In 1767, the Townshend Acts, proposed by Charles Townshend’s grandson, were passed by England’s Parliament. These acts placed a tax on common items imported by the colonies. These acts further infuriated the colonists who were already suffering under the Stamp Acts of 1765. Eventually, most of the Townshend Acts were repealed, but the seed for revolution had been planted. When the British marched on Concord on April 19, 1775, word was received in Townshend that afternoon. A cannon was fired on the common, calling out the alarm. Townshend sent seventy-three soldiers to Concord, nearly 10% of the population of 821 (1776 census). These men were gone twenty-one days, at which time they were called back to root out reported Tories in Townshend. One result of the new mood of animosity toward England was that several Tory properties were confiscated and sold. Another was that as the war progressed and patriotism took root, the “h” began to drop out of the spelling of the town’s name in the written record, and by the 1780s Townsend was the accepted spelling.

As the 19th century progressed, most commercial and manufacturing interests moved closer to the center of town. These interests included the production of stockings, clothing, pails and tubs. But the major industry in Townsend was the production of coopering stock. The B. and A.D. Fessenden Company became the largest employer in the town, running lumberyards and sawmills in addition to the cooperage factory for three generations. When the company finally closed in 1960, most of the building was taken down. Later the remainder burned completely. However, the Historical Society acquired a cooper shed from the old Fressenden site and moved it to the Reed House where it is awaiting a firmer foundation.

The development of West Townsend was linked to the stagecoach turnpike which passed through the area on its way to western Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Several taverns were built, and by 1806, the Joslinville Tavern (the big mansion at the corner of Main Street and West Meadow Road — now 519 Main Street) was a main lunch stop on the Boston to Keene Stagecoach. The railroad came to Townsend in 1846 and had a unifying effect on the town. Many of the goods manufactured in town were now shipped via the railroad, which further enhanced the development of these industries. By 1900, three trains ran in and out of town each day.

The Townsend Center Depot as seen in the early twentieth century. The Peterboro and Shirley Railroad was constructed in 1847 and connected the three local hamlets.

With a quick mode of transportation now available, farms were able to increase their production. Cranberries were raised in a bog off Spaulding Street the Harbor Farm on Main Street produced milk, apples and produce and several poultry farms became major suppliers to the New England egg market. Many of these businesses lasted well into the 20th century. The booming manufacturing and agriculture industries created other needs. By 1871, the town district schools made way for its first high school located near the center which also housed primary and intermediate grades. The first bank was chartered in 1854, and the fire department was established in 1875. The first police department came fifty years later in 1926.

As was true all across New England, by the middle of the 20th century many of the manufacturing and agricultural businesses began to slow. The train ran only three times a week. The Fessenden Company closed in 1960. The poultry industry waned until only one farm remained in operation in the 1970s. The last Boston and Maine train left Townsend in 1981.

By the end of the century, Sterilite was the largest industry remaining in town. With the decrease in industry, Townsend has become a residential community with many of the requisite service providers while retaining much of its rural character. The town adopted its governing charter in 1999, and Memorial Hall was beautifully restored ten years later. In 2007, Townsend celebrated its 275th anniversary with many activities, culminating with a grand parade in September of that year. Townsend continues to make history each and every day and we’ll be sure to share it with you as it enters our collections.

Townsend in the Future as seen in an early twentieth century postcard.


The Townshend Acts

The Townshend Acts (or the Townshend Act) refers to a set of taxes passed by Parliament in 1767 after the Stamp Act caused rebellion and riots on both sides of the Atlantic.

The colonists especially were infuriated and boycotted British goods.

The ring leaders of the boycott were Samuel Adams and John Dickinson. Their actions forced King George to repeal the Stamp Act.

Directly afterwards, in Parliament, a man named Charles Townshend, suggested what is now known as the Townshend Acts, taxing the colonies for tea, glass, lead, paints, and paper.

Charles Townshend, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds around 1765<. There’s a lot of Charles Townshends. It was difficult to find the right one. | Image is in the public domain.

The Stamp Act, which taxed an even wider selection of products, had been imposed to service the debt Britain had accumulated during the French and Indian War, which King George and most of Parliament felt had been fought to the great benefit of the colonists. Thus, they believed the colonies should help carry the expenses of the war.

Thus, the colonies could not object to these taxes, being much less than the Stamp Act and simply paying for Britain’s defense of the colonies. Or so the king thought the colonies completely objected. When the king sent his troops over to make sure they paid these new taxes, it stirred up opposition and boycotts.

The Townshend Acts and the Boston Tea Party

The Townshend Acts were repealed early in 1773, but their taxes on tea remained in force. In fact, the colonists had been boycotting British tea since their passing in 1767. So when the Tea Act, passed in May of that year, allowed the Dutch East India Company to deliver tea at reduced tax rates and without duties, it put the colonists over the edge.

In November, when a large shipment of East India Company tea arrived, colonists dressed up as Indians threw thousands of pounds worth of British tea into Boston harbor, an event we know as the Boston Tea Party.


Townshend Acts

The Townshend Acts ( / ˈ t aʊ n z ən d / ) [1] or Townshend Duties, refers to a series of British acts of Parliament passed during 1767 and 1768 relating to the British colonies in America. They are named after Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer who proposed the program. Historians vary slightly as to which acts they include under the heading "Townshend Acts", but five are often listed: [2]

    passed on 5 June 1767 passed on 26 June 1767 passed on 29 June 1767 passed on 29 June 1767 passed on 6 July 1768

The purposes of the acts were to:

  • raise revenue in the colonies to pay the salaries of governors and judges so that they would remain loyal to Great Britain
  • create more effective means of enforcing compliance with trade regulations
  • punish the Province of New York for failing to comply with the 1765 Quartering Act
  • establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the colonies [3]

The Townshend Acts were met with resistance in the colonies, which eventually resulted in the Boston Massacre of 1770. They placed an indirect tax on glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea, all of which had to be imported from Britain. This form of revenue generation was Townshend's response to the failure of the Stamp Act of 1765, which had provided the first form of direct taxation placed upon the colonies. However, the import duties proved to be similarly controversial. Colonial indignation over the acts was expressed in John Dickinson's Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania and in the Massachusetts Circular Letter. There was widespread protest, and American port cities refused to import British goods, so Parliament began to partially repeal the Townshend duties. [4] In March 1770, most of the taxes from the Townshend Acts were repealed by Parliament under Frederick, Lord North. However, the import duty on tea was retained 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. The British government continued to tax the American colonies without providing representation in Parliament. American resentment, corrupt British officials, and abusive enforcement spurred colonial attacks on British ships, including the burning of the Gaspee in 1772. The Townshend Acts' taxation on imported tea was enforced once again by the Tea Act of 1773, and this led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773 in which Bostonians destroyed a shipment of taxed tea. Parliament responded with severe punishments in the Intolerable Acts of 1774. The Thirteen Colonies drilled their militia units, and war finally erupted in Lexington and Concord in April 1775, launching the American Revolution.


Watch the video: What Were the Townshend Acts? History