Why Did Colonists Form Committees To Enforce Non Importation Agreements

In response to the non-import Boston agreement, Parliament finally struck down the Townshend Revenue Act taxes on all products except tea. The non-import agreements of the years leading up to the American Revolution were an effective tactic to protest British policy and put the Boston Patriots first and demonstrate to other colonies the potential for joint action. Following the successful boycott that Boston launched in 1768 with the Boston non-Import Agreement, the First Continental Congress of 1774 would pass a colonial ban on all trade with Great Britain. In 1764, Parliament passed two new reforms. The Sugar Act attempted to combat the widespread smuggling of molasses into New England by halving tariffs but increasing implementation. The smugglers would also be brought to justice by Vice Admiral courts and not by jurors. Parliament also passed the monetary law which limited the colonies to producing paper money. Hard silver, like gold and silver coins, was rare in the colonies. The lack of money handicapped the increasingly demanding transatlantic economies of the colonies, but it was particularly damaging in 1764, because a recession had already begun after the war. Between the restrictions imposed on the proclamation of 1763, the Justice Act and the abolition of trials for smugglers by the Sugar Act, some settlers began to see a model of restrictions and taxes. The Stamp Act Congress issued a “Declaration of Rights and Abuses” which, as Virginia Resolves said, declared to the king his loyalty and “subordination” to Parliament, but also reaffirmed the idea that settlers had the same rights as local Britons. These rights included the court, which had been shortened by the sugar law, and the right to be imposed only by their own elected representatives. Daniel Dulany wrote in 1765: “It is an essential principle of the English Constitution that the subject should not be taxed without his consent.” Benjamin Franklin called it the “first maxim of any free government.” Since the colonies did not elect members of Parliament, they believed that they were not represented and could not be taxed by that body.

In response, Parliament and the Ministry argued that settlers were “practically represented,” as were residents of English districts or counties who did not elect members of Parliament. However, the settlers rejected the notion of virtual representation, with one of them calling it a “monstrous idea.” American settlers had much to celebrate in 1766. The Stamp Act was repealed and the Sons of Liberty demonstrated their ability to mobilize the colonies against Parliament. In 1767, the festival gave way to anxiety.

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