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9d. The Townshend Acts

Rudolph Ackermann 1808

The House of Commons and the House of Lords combine to form Britain's Parliament. Charles Townshend was a member of the House of Commons when he convinced Parliament to impose a new tax on the American colonies in 1767.

"Nervous tension" is the term that best describes the relationship between the American colonies and England in the aftermath of the Stamp Act repeal.

Several issues remained unresolved. First, Parliament had absolutely no wish to send a message across the Atlantic that ultimate authority lay in the colonial legislatures. Immediately after repealing the Stamp Act, Parliament issued the Declaratory Act.

This act proclaimed Parliament's ability "to bind the colonies

in all cases whatsoever." The message was clear: under no circumstances did Parliament abandon in principle its right to legislate for the 13 colonies.

In the Western Hemisphere, leaders were optimistic about the repeal of the Stamp Act but found the suggestions of the Declaratory Act threatening. Most American statesmen had drawn a clear line between legislation and taxation. In 1766, the notion of Parliamentary supremacy over the law was questioned only by a radical few, but the ability to tax without representation was another matter. The Declaratory Act made no such distinction. "All cases whatsoever" could surely mean the power to tax. Many assemblymen waited anxiously for the issue to resurface.

Category: Taxes

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