What was the British Response for the Townshend Acts?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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When the Townshend Acts were passed, the British had strong reasons for passing these laws.  The colonies were becoming more expensive to operate.  The British firmly believed the colonists should share in this cost.  Since the negative reaction to direct taxation, as with the Stamp Act, was so strong, the British tried to devise ways to collect taxes without the colonists knowing they were paying them. 

The taxes of the Townshend Acts were indirect taxes.  They were taxes on imports on products such as glass and tea. The taxes were paid by the importers and passed on to the consumers.  When the consumers bought these products, the taxes were included in the price they paid for the products.  Thus, the consumers really didn’t know they were paying the tax since the tax wasn’t directly added to the price at the point of sale. 

Additionally, the Townshend Acts reinforced the idea that writs of assistance were legal.  This allowed the British to search any colonist who was suspected of being involved in smuggling. The Townshend Acts stayed in effect until after the Boston Massacre.  They were repealed, except for a tax on tea, to try to calm down the colonists who were upset by the Boston Massacre.  The British were prepared to defend the reasons why the Townshend Acts were passed.

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