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The Townshend Acts of 1767 were a series of laws imposed by the British Parliament which set new import taxes on commodities imported from Great Britain. Its enforcement further heightened the tensions between England and the American colonies in the run-up to the Revolutionary War.
See the fact file below for more information on the Townshend Acts or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Townshend Acts worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
The Townshend Acts
- Defending their North American colonies against the French army had proved to be costly for England. In order for them to maintain their resources and to support their troops in America, the British Parliament enacted this series of measures that taxed imported commodities.
- Named after its proponent, British Monetary Affairs Chancellor Charles Townshend, the Acts imposed tariffs on commodities shipped into America such as paper, tea, lead, paint, fruits, glass, and chinaware.
- The Representative of the Pennsylvania Assembly in London, Benjamin Franklin argued to the British Parliament that the colonies will begin to produce their own goods rather than pay duties on imports.
- However, Townshend strategically decided to subject these particular items for taxation since they would be difficult for the Americans to manufacture on their own, allowing Britain to maintain the monopoly.
- While the original intent of the tariffs collected had been to raise revenue, Townshend saw the policies as a way to reform colonial legislatures, and use the money to pay salaries of colonial officials, ensuring their loyalty to the British Crown.
- Chancellor Townshend died suddenly in September 1767, before the detrimental impacts of his measures could be enacted and materialized.
- Similar attempts, such as the Stamp Act of 1765, which was imposed on every piece of paper used, were met with protests across America.
The Colonies Dissent
- Just a few weeks after the legislation of the Townshends Acts on November 20, 1767, two widely disseminated propaganda had ignited a boycott of imported British commodities – “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania”, written by Pennsylvania representative John Dickinson, and “Massachusetts Circular Letter”, a manifesto written by Samuel Adams and James Otis, Jr., passed by the Massachusetts Congress to other colonial governments.
- By January 1768, 24 towns in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island joined the protests inspired by a “taxation without representation” campaign initiated by an underground society of American business leaders called Sons of Liberty. Merchants from New England and New York soon echoed and agreed to ban British imports for one year.
- Back in England, Lord Hillsborough, the Secretary of State for the colonies, ordered Massachusetts to withdraw the manifesto and threatened that any colony that advocated it would be dissolved. However, it served only to unite the citizens further, pushing the other colonies to support Massachusetts – even Philadelphia, which had initially resisted the Circular.
- During 1768 and 1769, more militant groups had joined the boycott, like the Daughters of Liberty, who started to produce alternatives for British commodities.
- Colonists urged the people to shop only with merchants who were on board with the non-importation agreements. Business owners who were found selling British goods were called out and threatened with violence.
- During this time, the mere purchase of consumer goods translated into a political gesture: the very clothes you wore indicated whether you were a defender of liberty in homespun clothes or a loyalist of repressive Parliamentary laws in fine British dress.
Trouble in Boston
- To restore order and avert the increasing rebellion in Boston, the Parliament deployed over 4,000 British forces, which justified the assertion of British power and inequality between citizens of the same empire. The situation for the colonists had only worsened as British soldiers competed for employment, which further resulted to recurrent encounters.
- The conflict finally got out of control on March 5, 1770, in an encounter on King Street that came to be known as the Boston Massacre. On that night, the British troops shot into an angry Boston mob, killing five American colonists.
- Little did everyone know that before the Boston Massacre happened, Great Britain Prime Minister Lord North had requested the Parliament to repeal the duties except the tax on tea, leaving other administrative and enforcement provisions under the Townshend Acts in place.
- This sparked the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when a group of angry Massachusetts colonists dumped 342 chests of tea in the Boston Harbor valued at around $18,000.
Townshend Acts Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Townshend Acts across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Townshend Acts worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Townshend Acts of 1767 were a series of laws imposed by the British Parliament which set new import taxes on commodities imported from Great Britain. Its enforcement further heightened the tensions between England and the American colonies in the run-up to the Revolutionary War.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Looking for the Goods
- Concur or Dissent?
- Word Bank
- Draw and Show
- Who Am I?
- More Money, More Problems
- Women are Power
- Fact or Propaganda?
- Tax Me Not
- Letter to a Farmer in Pennsylvania
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Link will appear as The Townshend Acts Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 5, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
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