On April 12, 1770, British Parliament repealed the Townshend Acts. That’s Today’s History Lesson, and you’re free to go. Enjoy your evening.
For those of you that would like a wee bit more information, you’re welcome to hang out for a couple minutes longer.
The Townshend Acts were a series of laws passed by the British in the late 1760s. Their function (like many of the “acts” of the time) involved some form of taxation. The British were carrying an enormous war debt and needed help paying for it. They also maintained a sizeable military force in the Colonies, and one of its functions was (ostensibly) to protect the Colonies. So Parliament believed that the protected citizens should help defray the costs.
The Townshend Acts included the Revenue Act of 1767, the Indemnity Act, the Commissioners of Customs Act, the Vice Admiralty Court Act, and the New York Restraining Act. In the past, it had been notoriously difficult for the British to collect the taxes it levied against the Colonies, because people didn’t want to pay and found ways around them. The Townshend Acts were designed to make the people kind of feel better about paying up.
The taxes from these acts were used to pay the salaries of judges and governors, the idea being that the money collected came from the Colonists, so the people in power would be independent of British rule. Yeah, it seems a little fishy to me, too. The money was also used to improve enforcement of other trade rules (in other words, to make sure taxes from other laws still in place were collected). And, in the case of the New York Restraining Act, there was a bit of punishment for the response to the Quartering Act.
Like most other tax laws of the day, these were met with serious opposition. This led to the call by local British officials for more soldiers. This led to more unrest, and eventually the city of Boston was occupied by the British. This led to more angst, and then there was the death of Christopher Seider which, along with the strong British presence, culminated in the Boston Massacre.
At this point, debate began on at least a partial repeal of the “revenue” parts of the Townshend Acts. That repeal was passed a month later, on April 12th.
One interesting note as we close. The one tax that remained was the tax on tea, and we all know how that ended up.