• The average American was better off than the average Englishman. • (Elements of mercantilism survive today: e.g. protective tariffs.)
Menace of Mercantilism • After 1763 there was greater enforcement of the Navigation Laws. • This stifled our economy. Americans were not free to buy, sell, or produce under the most profitable conditions. • Southern colonies were favored because they grew non-English products. • One-crop Virginians felt they were at mercy of British merchants. • Americans felt used – not allowed to grow up!
Stamp Tax Uproar • Britain emerged from French and Indian War (Seven Years War) with its biggest debt. One-half of the debt was incurred defending the American colonies. • England didn’t ask Americans to pay for this; Americans were asked, however, to pay 1/3 of the cost of maintaining English soldiers in America.
• George Grenville caused resentment by ordering the British Navy to begin enforcing the Navigation Laws.
• Grenville passed the Sugar Act (1764). This is the first law ever passed by Parliament for raising revenue in the colonies. • The Sugar Act increased duties on foreign sugar imported from the West Indies. After a protest, the duty was lowered, but not repealed.
• More resentment: The Quartering Act (1765) required certain colonies to provide food and quarters for British troops.
• The most obnoxious law was the Stamp Tax , passed to raise revenue to support new military forces. It ordered the use of stamped paper or required affixing a stamp to the document.
• Britain said that they were just asking Americans to pay a fair share of cost for their own protection through taxes that are already being paid by British people.
• Some colonies refused to obey the Quartering Act or voted to supply a fraction of the supplies.
• Both Sugar and Stamp Acts provided for trying offenders in the hated admiralty courts.
• In admiralty courts, • 1) juries were not allowed. • 2) the burden of proof was on the • defendant ( guilty until proven • innocent ).
• Americans asked, “Why are British armies needed? • Was the real purpose to control colonists? • “No taxation w/o representation.” (Irony: seaport and tidewater towns most hurt by the Stamp Act denied full representation to backcountry pioneers.)
• There is a difference between “legislation” and “taxation” • Americans denied that Parliament, where no Americans had seats, could impose taxes on Americans. Only colonial legislatures could do so!
• Parliament could, Americans said, legislate about trade and other matters that affected the entire empire. • Parliament said that Americans were represented…… by “virtual representation.” Every member of Parliament represented all British subjects, not just those living in Britain.
• Americans didn’t really want representation: • 1) They would always be outvoted.
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