Marc Schulman

 


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Townshend Acts Repealed

The British parliament repealed the Townshend duties on all but tea. Pressure from British merchants was partially responsible for the change. The British government, led by Prime Minister Lord North, maintained the taxes on tea, in order to underscore the supremacy of parliament.


The colonial boycott of British goods hurt British merchants in London and beyond. They began petitioning the government to overturn the Townshend Custom Duties. On March 5, 1770 debates began in the English parliament on whether or not to overturn the taxes. The government was willing to remove the taxes on everything but tea. Tea, they argued, was not grown in the England and thus the tariff would not hurt British merchants. In addition to that fact, the money was needed. More importantly, the British government wished to maintain the principal that their parliament had the right to tax the colonies.

During the course of the debate the opposition introduced a resolution calling for the duties on tea to be dropped as well. However, that resolution was defeated by the representatives of the government in parliament by a vote of 204 to 142. As a result, on April 9th, the British parliament voted to eliminate the duty on everything but tea.

The British decision to eliminate the tariff on everything but tea, was too little, too late. By reiterating their claim to be able to tax the colonists, and by not rescinding other aspects of the Townshend Acts, such as the independent Customs Authority, instead of calming the colonial waters, the British only further inflamed them.