Confessions of a Radical Tax Protestor: An Inside Expose of the Tax Resistance Movement

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We Accept. Shipping Methods business days Minimum 10 business days. Our Locations. In the Treaty of Paris in February the British chose to insist that the French cede Canada rather than the sugar-rich island of Guadeloupe.

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Some British pamphleteers argued that this could lead to the English Americans deciding to become independent of England because they would no longer need British protection from the French. However, Benjamin Franklin argued that most Americans would move west and farm, thus not challenging British manufacturing. Franklin assumed that the British would govern the Americans reasonably, and they would have no motive to revolt. British Prime Minister John Stuart, the Earl of Bute, decided that a permanent force of royal troops should remain in America, and the Parliament accepted this without much debate.

Frenchmen were still in Canada; in the west were Indian tribes; and Spaniards remained in Florida which extended west to the Mississippi River.


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George Grenville became prime minister in the spring of , and he accepted the standing army in America. Grenville and Parliament believed that Americans should pay their share of the war and for the army in America through increased taxes.

The Molasses Act had been passed in ; but it was not enforced, and smuggling was so common that the merchants were paying only about a one and a half pennies per gallon in In Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Philadelphia the Americans used molasses in their distilleries to make rum, which was traded for slaves from Africa.

In Governor Robert Hunter Morris had broken into warehouses in Philadelphia to look for contraband. Boston merchants formed the Society for Encouraging Trade and Commerce in April , and they argued that molasses would not bear any duty at all. In July Grenville ordered Customs Commissioners to move to the colonies or resign.

In addition to lowering the tax on molasses to 3 pence, it imposed taxes on hides, skins, potash, logwood and other goods and prohibited the importation of rum into the colonies. The 3 d. Merchants and ship captains had to post a bond before loading their cargoes and were required to have proper manifests listing their cargoes. Violators were prosecuted in the vice admiralty court without a jury at Halifax, Nova Scotia where the British fleet was based. Suspected offenders were presumed guilty and had to prove their innocence. What it took in turned out to be less than the costs of the court.

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The Currency Act of prohibited all the colonies from issuing paper money. Stimulation of the American economy faded with the end of the war, leading to a depression in Franklin predicted that what England gained from taxes would be lost in trade. In New York the informer George Spencer was arrested for debt, pelted by a mob in the streets, and jailed until he promised to leave the city.

Boston merchants printed Reasons Against the Renewal of the Sugar Act in early and sent copies to their agent in England.

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James Otis of Massachusetts led the committee that told Governor Fitch of Connecticut on June 25 that the Sugar Act deprived the colonies of their essential rights such as the right to assess their own taxes. He admitted the colonists must obey the Parliament, which he believed must repeal its offending laws. Otis wrote that Parliament did not have the right to impose internal or external taxes on the colonies without their consent.

He argued that the supreme executive and the supreme legislature in Parliament should check and balance each other.

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After the Massachusetts House of Representatives heard Otis read his long pamphlet twice, they voted to send it to their agent in London. A boycott of British manufactures had been initiated in Philadelphia, and it was reported in Boston newspapers on September 6. Merchants in New York City met on January 27, in a tavern, and they urged their colonial legislature to protest.

New York sent a long petition to the House of Commons on October 18 asserting that the British had no right to tax them.

The North Carolina Assembly sent a message to Governor Dobbs on October 31 that they could not be taxed without their consent, and South Carolina agreed. Merchants in Rhode Island had met as early as October to send their remonstrance against the Sugar Act to the legislature. John Robinson arrived as the Customs collector in Newport in early In July the Assembly formed a committee to work for repeal of the Sugar Act. Hopkins published his pamphlet in December, provoking a pamphlet war with conservatives in which he was supported by Otis. John over impressments, stealing pigs and chickens, and smuggling of molasses, batteries at Newport harbor fired on it as it was leaving.

In April the collector Robinson had the Polly seized in Dighton, Massachusetts for not having declared half its cargo. He brought a crew from Newport; but people persuaded them not to serve, and forty men with blackened faces stripped the ship of everything valuable and scuttled it. The owner Job Smith accused Robinson of the damages, and a sheriff made him walk eight miles to Taunton.

Robinson was released from jail and took the Polly case to the court at Halifax. British naval officers began taking small craft in various ports, and merchants retaliated by not making pilots available to royal ships. The population of the thirteen colonies in was about 1,,, and about , were Africans. On March 9, British Prime Minister Grenville told Parliament he wanted a stamp tax in , but they needed time to learn what to tax.

Grenville met with a few colonial agents on May He hoped the colonies might tax themselves, but he never officially notified the colonies of this nor did he tell them how much was needed. Because of resistance to the sugar tax, he wanted to put the Americans in their place.

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Then he informed the agents that he had already pledged his word that he would offer the Stamp Bill to the House of Commons. Thus he was only trying to get the colonies to decline to raise the money. Ingersoll was a friend of Thomas Whately in the treasury office and persuaded them to remove marriage licenses, commissions for justices of the peace, and notes of hand from the duty.

During the debate on February 6 Col. They planted by your care? No, your oppressions planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny to a then i u ncultivated and u i nhospitable country. They protected by your arms? They have nobly taken up arms in your defence, have exerted a valor amidst their constant and laborious industry for the defence of a country whose frontier was drenched in blood. The Parliament refused to hear any petitions against the Stamp Act, and the House passed its fifty resolutions The Stamp Act became law on March 22, The Quartering Act passed on May 15, requiring the housing of British troops in America with provisions.

The new member Patrick Henry introduced resolutions against the Act. Although the Burgesses only approved four resolutions, on June 24 the Newport Mercury published all seven resolutions including the last one deeming as an enemy anyone who asserts that anyone has the authority to impose any tax on the colonial inhabitants. The Maryland Gazette also included this one in the six resolutions it reported.

Massachusetts sent a circular letter on June 8 inviting all the colonies to send delegates to a congress in New York City in October. Seven other colonies also passed resolutions declaring that Parliament had no right to tax the colonies. On August 14, they hanged in effigy the anticipated distributor of the stamps, Andrew Oliver. Governor Bernard summoned the Council which did nothing, and the Sheriff reported his men could not remove the effigy without risking their lives.

The shoemaker Ebenezer McIntosh led a mob that demolished the building Oliver had constructed for distributing the stamps. Bernard said the mob was so general that the civil power had no authority. The next day gentlemen asked Oliver to resign, and he promised to write home and not execute the Act. On the evening of August 26 the Loyal Nine looted and damaged two houses of those whom they believed supported the Act. Fearing a mob was going to pull down the customs house, the Sheriff released his prisoner. The intimidated Governor notified the newspapers that he would not authorize the distribution of the stamps.

News of the actions in Boston spread to other colonies. Governor Samuel Ward left town until the rioting ended. He refused to take the oath to enforce the Act, and Johnston resigned. On that day Zachariah Hood in Maryland refused to resign, and a mob pulled down his warehouse. He fled to New York where a mob forced him to quit on November Jared Ingersoll of Connecticut held out until a lynch mob persuaded him on September On the 19th the New Jersey bar resolved not to use the stamps. On September 23 Virginians hung up effigies of Grenville and distributor George Mercer and put them on trial.

The members replied that they had a right to be represented in the body exercising the power of taxation.


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On June 8 the Massachusetts representatives had sent a circular letter to the assemblies of North America suggesting a congress at New York in October, and nine colonies participated. Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia were prevented by their governors from assembling to choose delegates. New Hampshire declined to attend the congress but approved after it ended.

Delaware and New Jersey were not allowed to meet either, but they informally elected delegates anyway.

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