History Review2

History Review2 - Chapter 5 Writs of assistance- Writs of...

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Chapter 5 Writs of assistance- Writs of assistance were court orders that authorized customs officers to conduct general (non-specific) searches of premises for contraband. The exact nature of the materials being sought did not have to be detailed, nor did their locations. The writs were first introduced in Massachusetts in 1751 to strictly enforce the Acts of Trade , the governing rules for commerce in the British Empire. Merchants in much of New England were skillful at evading the system and many had become masters of smuggling. The powerful new court orders enabled officials to inspect not only shops and warehouses, but also private homes. It quickly became apparent to many colonists that their homes were no longer their castles. In 1761, James Otis represented Boston merchants in their challenge to the renewal of the writs. He failed to convince the court, but gained public prominence in arguing that the writs violated the colonists’ natural rights . The writs of assistance again drew public attention with the enforcement of the Townshend Duties in 1767. Courts continued to uphold the constitutionality of the orders into the 1770s, but as time passed and popular passions heated, few officials had the courage to use them. The writs were one of a list of grievances that the Americans harbored against the Crown and contributed to the process of changing loyal colonists into advocates for independence. North Carolina Regulators - Farming interests in western North Carolina resented the actions of local court officials. This feeling was particularly strong in Anson, Granville, Halifax, Orange and Rowan counties. Efforts to reform the assessment of taxes and fees were unsuccessful; the courts and assembly were not responsive and seemed to favor the causes of the wealthy tidewater elements. Regulator groups arose to close down local courts (which in this era were analogous to county commissions) and suppress tax payments; rioting broke out in several counties. In May 1771, Governor William Tryon led militia forces against the Regulators and defeated them handily at Alamance Creek. Most of the rebels were pardoned, but seven of the leaders were hanged. The movement did not survive, but tensions between east and west remained. Gaspée Incident - The repeal of the Townshend duties in the Spring of 1770 did much to soothe strained relations between the American colonies and the mother country. For the next three years a surface harmony prevailed, but several incidents occurred that served to indicate not all was well. One such event occurred in Rhode Island where local forces resorted to violence and property destruction to oppose the enforcement of unpopular British trade policies. The British revenue cutter
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course HIST 1310 taught by Professor Marshall during the Spring '08 term at Texas State.

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History Review2 - Chapter 5 Writs of assistance- Writs of...

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