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   Chapter 27 No.27

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 2820

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Townshend's plans.]

[Sidenote: Quarrel with New York.]

The repeal of the Stamp Act removed the difficulty without removing the cause. The year 1766 was marked in English politics by the virtual retirement of Pitt from the government. His powerful opposition to taxation of the colonies was thus removed, and Charles Townshend became the leading spirit in the ministry. Jan. 26, 1767, he said in the House of Commons: "I know a mode in which a revenue may be drawn from America without offence…. England is undone if this taxation of America is given up." And he pledged himself to find a revenue nearly sufficient to meet the military expenses in America. At the moment that the question of taxation was thus revived, the New York Assembly became involved in a dispute with the home government by declining to furnish the necessary supplies for the troops. An Act of Parliament was therefore passed declaring the action of the New York legislature null,-a startling assertion of a power of disallowance by Parliament.

[Sidenote: Enforcement.]

The three parts of the general scheme for controlling the colonies were now all taken up again. For their action against the troops the New York Assembly was suspended,-the first instance in which Parliament had undertaken to destroy an effective part of the colonial government. For the execution of the Navigation Acts a board of commissioner

s of customs was established, with large powers. In June, 1767, a new Taxation Act was introduced, and rapidly passed through Parliament. In order to avoid the objections to "internal taxes," it laid import duties on glass, and white lead, painters' colors, paper, and tea. The proceeds of the Act, estimated at, ?40,000, were to pay governors and judges in America. Writs of Assistance were made legal. A few months afterwards,-December, 1767,-a colonial department was created, headed by a secretary of state. The whole machinery of an exasperating control was thus provided.

[Sidenote: Question of right of taxation.]

Issue was once more joined both in England and America on the constitutional power of taxation. The great principle of English law that taxation was not a right, but a gift of the persons taxed through their representatives, was claimed also by the colonies. Opinions had repeatedly been given by the law officers of the Crown that a colony could be taxed only by its own representatives. The actual amount of money called for was too small to burden them, but it was to be applied in such a way as to make the governors and judges independent of the assemblies. The principle of taxation, once admitted, might be carried farther. As an English official of the time remarked: "The Stamp Act attacked colonial ideas by sap; the Townshend scheme was attacking them by storm every day."

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