During the 1760s, a series of aggressive economic policies passed by England's Parliament spurred widespread retaliation in certain American colonies. These policies prompted the Patriotic Movement and fueled convictions for American independence.
Colonial economics exploited the natural resources of a politically less-powerful land. In the colonial economic system, the mother country, England in this case, used the American colonies as exclusive producers of raw materials. England would receive raw materials that were not available for widespread distribution or exploitation in England (such as furs, wood, and cash crops like tobacco and cotton) at an incredibly discounted price.
America would, theoretically, prosper as well from this business arrangement in that it had a reliable and steady market for the raw materials. In this case, England took additional steps to ensure substantial profits by passing laws early in the colonial period restricting manufacturing operations in the colonies. Therefore, leaving the colonies absolutely dependent on England for processed materials such as tools, building materials, or clothes.
These economic restrictions were hard to enforce from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, and the colonies adapted the rules a bit while England was preoccupied battling France for control of American and Canadian lands during the Seven Years War, also known as the French and Indian War (1756-1763). The Seven Years War made an impact on colonial life in an unpredicted way. First and foremost, the British victory over the French made British protection of the colonies unnecessary. Secondly, the taxes imposed on the American colonies to pay off British debt accrued during the war sparked discontent, organized boycotts, and inevitably the American Revolution. Thus, the phrase “taxation without representation” was born.
In 1764, Parliament passed the Sugar Act, which was significantly lowered after two years of protest. In 1765, Parliament tried to initiate the Stamp Act, which ironically antagonized and financially attacked the types of commerce that England could hardly afford to provoke- newspaper and pamphlet printers. At this point, violence was already occurring, as Bostonians hung a stamp officer and vandalized the British governor’s house. In 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, but then created the Townshed Duties in 1767. After the creation of the Townshed Duties, Americans began organizing groups of resistance, like the famous, and quite malicious, Sons of Liberty. The American colonies boycotted all goods taxed by the Townshed Duties. After the Boston Massacre on March 8, 1770, England repealed all the Townshed Duties, except the one on tea.
The colonists continued to boycott tea. England’s tea, from colonies in India, was rotting on ships in the American harbors and storehouses. The English decided to bribe the colonists to buy the tea by repealing the tax on tea in order to unload their expensive inventory and monetarily salvage what was possible. However, on December 16, 1773 the Sons of Liberty retaliated by dumping the tea into the Boston harbor.
After England responded with the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts in America, violence against English tax collectors was increasing. The more England clamped down, the more America resisted. Often towns had a Liberty Tree, a tall sturdy tree where they would hang tax collectors or other English agents. Another common violent act against English tax collectors was tarring and feathering them. Document 59 shows American patriots tarring and feathering a tax collector. This was published in London in 1774, and offers a unique perspective on the colonist’s behaviors.
How do economic factors influence political events?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of the cartoon and explain the reasons for this act.