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British Policy And The American Colonies

1225 words - 5 pages

Changes in British policies toward the colonies between 1750 and 1776 played paramount in the evolution of relations between British North America and Mother England. Tension between England and the colonies mounted from the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War to the signing of the Declaration of Independence as a result of the several implemented changes imposed by Parliament for the purpose of increasing income and tightening the grip on America.

During the Seven Years’ War, William Pitt was enlisted to take over command of the British forces from the failing Earl of Londoun. Pitt realized the advantage of employing the help of the colonies to bolster the war effort for the British; to appeal to them, Pitt ensured the colonists they would be paid for their service, he also promised them the war would be paid for by London not the colonies. Pitt stressed the importance of treating the colonists as equals and as a result the colonists joined forces with the British and won the war against the French.

In 1763, the French signed the Treaty of Paris relinquishing their territory to the British. Morale amongst colonists was high after the war; not only did they feel as equals with the British, but they also assumed the conclusion of the war would mean lower taxes and access to the land previously occupied by the French. Britain however, had differing opinions; it was evident to them that they now had to protect and amalgamate their new territory with a standing army as well as pay said army, thus taxes were imminent.

The morale boost amongst colonists didn’t last long. In 1763 a powerful Ottawa chief allied with several other Indian tribes waged war on the British capturing every fort west of Detroit forcing colonists east. In response Parliament adopted the Proclamation Line to appease the Indians and prevent further conflict. The Proclamation line would forbid colonists from settling west of the Appalachians. This new measure infuriated colonists who felt cheated because the land they had fought so hard for had been given away to the Indians.

The frustrations amongst colonists did not stop with the Proclamation Line. In 1764 the Revenue Act, more commonly known as the Sugar Act was passed cutting the duty on molasses in half. Though the reduction in duty was favorable, the act also meant that ships carrying cargo were very closely monitored and those who breached laws regarding duty were tried in juryless admiralty courts. Following the Revenue Act was the Currency act of 1764, which prohibited colonies from producing their own currency; the reasoning was to restrict colonists from paying off debt with currency that was worth less than face value.

The British government’s legislation to increase revenue continued beyond the Revenue and Currency Acts. In 1765 the Quartering Act and Stamp Act were enacted. The Quartering Act required colonists to house troops who were stationed in their vicinity. The British reasoned that this...

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