The end of the French and Indian War (and the broader Seven Years' War of which it was a part) brought Great Britain to the forefront of the world's imperial powers. In North America, the Crown gained all of North America east of the Mississippi River, including Canada. Because of...
The end of the French and Indian War (and the broader Seven Years' War of which it was a part) brought Great Britain to the forefront of the world's imperial powers. In North America, the Crown gained all of North America east of the Mississippi River, including Canada. Because of this change, and because the war had been astronomically expensive, the British sought to take a more active role in regulating their colonies, especially in raising revenue from them.
The first real example of this imperial reform was the Proclamation of 1763. This banned colonial settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains. The purpose of this measure was to avert conflict with Native peoples, especially in the Ohio Valley, and to avoid the cost of maintaining garrisons at forts in the trans-Appalachian West.
Another measure was the Sugar Act, passed in 1764. This law was intended to more tightly regulate the sugar trade, which had been the subject of rampant smuggling. It was later replaced by subsequent measures at achieving the same end—the Revenue Act of 1766 and the Townshend Acts of 1767. These measures illustrated the British desire to formalize the mercantilist relationship between the mother country and the colonies.
Finally, the Stamp Act, passed in 1765, attempted to raise revenue by placing a direct tax on official documents and publications. The revenue stamp, which had to be purchased from a tax collector, was to be affixed on any of several enumerated publications.
Of course, each of these measures met with virulent colonial opposition, especially the Stamp Act, which violated, the colonists argued, the English constitutional tradition of "no taxation without representation." Attempts to raise or to alter import duties also met with opposition, especially in colonial port cities. But it is important to understand that these measures occurred in the context of a broader English effort to establish a sustainable imperial relationship with its colonies.