American Revolution

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Why did Parliament implement the policies that it did with regard to the colonies in the 1760s and 1770s?

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After the French and Indian War ended in 1763, the British Parliament needed to raise a significant amount of money to pay off the debts it had accrued during the long conflict. The lawmakers in England figured that since much of the war was fought to protect and consolidate its North American colonies that the colonists there should be responsible, at least in part, for footing the bill. That is why they instituted a number of acts, such as the 1765 Stamp Act, to secure these funds.

However, Parliament did not anticipate the negative response to these measures that occurred in the colonies, particularly in New England. Colonists thought that it was an affront to their station as Englishmen to be compelled to pay taxes without first giving their consent. Many refused and protested these new taxes.

Parliament was forced to respond with a number of punitive and coercive measures, that they hoped would keep the rabble-rousers from starting too much more trouble. The most hated of these policies became known as the Intolerable Acts. These were a series of laws intended to punish Boston for the localized act of rebellion that occurred in December of 1773 with the Boston Tea Party. Parliament hoped that these acts, which included closing the port of Boston to commerce and revoking the charter of Massachusetts, would make an example of colonies that did not toe the line. However, these policies backfired as they just created more animosity between the colonies and the mother country.

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Parliament implemented these sorts of policies largely because it needed more money.  It had spent a tremendous amount of money on the Seven Years' War and needed to recoup some of that.  Because of this, Parliament did two main things.  First, it imposed various taxes on the colonies to get money from them.  Second, it did various things to tighten British control of the colonies.  It did things like setting up courts to try colonists who were smuggling and who had not been strongly prosecuted by the colonial authorities.  This, too, would ensure that the colonial economies did more to benefit Britain than they had previously.

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