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The Townshend Act

By magicmechanic37 Feb 10, 2014 1563 Words

Week Two Learning Team Assignment
Team A chose to summarize the Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Act of 1767, and Tea Act of 1773. Team A chose these three Acts given their relevance to the Revolutionary War. The Team will discuss concepts that the Team did not understand. Examine the importance and applicability of this week’s concepts to each member and to society in general. Stamp Act, 1765 Summarized:

The Stamp Act of 1765, enacted by the British Parliament had a profound effect on the America Revolution as well as later American legal and Constitutional writings. In the opening line, The Stamp Act of 1765 provides "...several Duties were granted, continued, and appropriated, to toward defraying the Expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the British Colonies and Plantations in America". This signified Britain's attempt to gain more profit and control over the colonies as the colonies began to become less economically dependent on Britain for goods.  There are a total of 117 Articles within the Stamp Act, most of which created taxes every good dealing with paper, velamen, skin, playing cards, and dice.  Parliament also dictated there would not be any tax on any paperwork or documentation for Prayer and Thanksgiving, educational books, or for paperwork needed for a soldier or seaman dying in service to the Crown. Articles 66 and 67 created the powers of who would enforce the Act to include soldiers and a leader chosen based on high standards. The Stamp Act of 1765 also provides "I do swear, That I will faithfully execute the trust reposed in me...". This oath is very similar to many of our oaths of office today, to include the President of the United States, Supreme Court Justices, and other elected or appointed officials of government. 

Team Response:
The Stamp Act did not present any concept issues for the Team. The Team discussion is as follows: In the readings this week, the Stamp Act of 1765 was the one act that was the most upsetting to the colonists (Schultz, 2012). The colonists also disagreed with the provision of the Act that tried offenders in a Crown operated Vice Admiralty Court, rather than in a court of their peers as they felt they were entitled (p. 88).The other problem with the Stamp Act was in Britain's ability to enforce it because of manpower issues. For me the Act set a foundation for failure for the Crown leading to the Revolution. The Act, although a failure during colonial times, set the foundation of many of the reasons the Bill of Rights was enacted, as well as a foundation for law in general by creating the issue, the restriction, the ability to enforce and how it will be enforced, and the punishments for violation of the law. The Stamp Act deepened the rift between the colonies and the Crown and helped to further the colonists forming their own identity. For example Daughters of Liberty organized a boycott against British clothing, as a result colonists began manufacturing or purchased homespun clothes flying their alliance to the colony in the face of the British (Schultz, "Chapter 5" 2012). Boycotting is still current and relevant in 2014. Boycotting however today is used towards Corporate America rather than our government. It is Team A’s opinion that it seemed that the Crown was concerned more with the loss of revenue, rather than supporting the colonies. If the Crown would have allowed the colonies more financial freedom, it could have worked out in both party's financial interest. However, if that would have occurred, America would be British today and we would not be Americans. The Team also observed through our readings that British were so concerned with attitude of their homeland populous and recouping their financial loss of the Seven Year War that the British completely underestimated the colonies need for independency.  It’s clear our text tells us that the colonists did not use words such as independence but in hindsight that was the underlying motivation. The British also underestimated the abilities and resolve of the colonists to rebel against a superior military force. Britain believed they had the military might and the colonists were a bunch of second class citizens who would never "dare" to revolt against the Crown. The British allowed their greed to supersede their understanding of exactly what was going on within the colonial leadership.   The experiment that was the New World was rebelling and the foot hold of desire to control their destiny was grossly underestimated by the British.  Townshend Act, 1767 Summarized:

The Townshend Act was created in 1767 which involved new taxes to be applied through the Parliament. With this, Townshend used to his advantage to raise revenue of imported goods from Britain by adding more and new external duties on goods such as glass, tea, paper and a few other items. However, soon opposition was on its way much like the opposition of the Stamp Act. As part of the opposition, women stopped wearing silk, serving tea and also quit wearing satins as well. Because the Townshend Act was more about revenue than regulation, a well-known lawyer named John Dickinson wrote a series of essays in opposition of the Townshend Act called Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania. Dickinson explained that the colonies had tolerated tax hikes in order for Parliament to regulate trade. However since the premise behind the Townshend Act was not to regulate trade rather to generate more revenue for the Crown, Dickinson considered the Act unconstitutional. The Boston Massacre was soon on its way (Schultz, Chapter 5, 2012). 

Team Response:
The Townshend Act did not present any concept difficulties for Team A, rather summarize this Act it became clearer to Team A that the British Parliament was gouging the colonists with various tax measures. Boycotting had worked for the colonists in the past to communicate their disgruntled attitude towards the Crown and soon boycotting was organized and then galvanized. Unlike today, where 48 percent of our paychecks are taxed, we at least are taxed by a government that we vote into office and we have taxation with representation. The Tea Act, 1773 Summarized:

The Tea Act was an act of the Parliament of Great Britain. The reason this Act was established to help the British East India Company with their financial trouble. This Act granted the company the right to directly ship its tea to North America. The colonies objected to paying the taxes as they had before by boycotting imported tea; they also shut down the Boston Harbor and refused to unload a shipment of tea from an awaiting ship. A group of men called the Sons of Liberty revolted, disguised as Native American Indians and under the guise of night, boarded the ship and dumped the tea into the harbor. This event led to the American Revolution (BRITISH TEA ACT OF 1773). Team Response:

Once again, the Tea Act presented no concept difficulties for Team A. The Team assessed that this act was the final straw leading to the American Revolution, however three years earlier the colonists began to rebel involving customs. Chapter five of our book discussed how around 1770 and the events prior the Boston Massacre, John Hancock's ship "Liberty" came into port with wine, and the colonists held up the customs officials so the wine could be offloaded without any tax or tariff being paid (Schultz, 2012). The Team has determined that the Tea Act was the final Act that pushed the colonists and Britain failed to realize they were pushing too hard and wanted to force compliance instead of gaining cooperation. The aforementioned comments combined with “taxation without representation” that was such a burning issue for John Adams also contributed to the American revolt of the British Crown.   The Team did find it interesting to read that during the Tea Act and Boston Harbor incident Boston’s Governor Thomas Hutchinson tried to intervene on the British’s behalf in the name of supporting his son’s tea import business and to show his alliance with the Crown, we still see that form of nepotism today in our political system. Our readings also indicated that when the Crown looked to have governors in place who sided with the Crown within the colonial settlements. It seems the political parlor tricks were in play during the colonial times as well. Conclusion:

It became clear that the British considered the colonists second class citizens and their personal cash cows. When reviewing the Stamp, Townshend and Tea Act it’s easy to see a steady trend of revenue generating taxes for the British with very little return for the colonists. Technically tea was taxed two or three times; once for the actual tea, once for the stamp on the container to ship the tea, and possibly on the bill of laden as well. Team A believes these continued levies is what led to the start of the Revolution. It was not the simple taxation, but the over taxation on the same goods, same transportation and same paper work. Although these taxes are not relevant today, given we govern ourselves, we are still subjected to large taxation. References

EBOOK COLLECTION: Ch. 2 of HIST2, Volume 1
Schultz, K.M. (2012). HIST2. Volume 1 (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.  The Stamp Act of 1765, American History Leaflets: Colonial and Constitutional (1895). p 2 - 34. New York. A. Lovell and Co. retrieved from www.loc.gov. (Library of Congress) The Tea Act of 1773,” www.founding.com/library/ (accessed June 2003). 

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