The reaction of the colonists was one of intense resentment, not so much at the idea of paying taxes, but because the taxes were imposed by an authority other than the colonists' duly elected representatives, hence the complaint of "taxation without representation." This attempt by Parliament to tax the colonies began the process which resulted in the American Revolution.
Parliament had passed the Stamp Act in an attempt to defray some of the costs of the Seven Years War from colonial funds. Since the war had been fought in America (among other areas) and had protected the colonists, Parliament believed that it was only fair that the colonists bear some portion of the cost of the war.
Tremendous protests broke out in all the colonies, so much so that Stamp Act agents were afraid to even attempt a sale of the taxes; in fact no stamps were ever sold. Nine states sent representatives to the Stamp Act Congress which issued a Declaration of the Rights and Grievances of the Colonies which asked Parliament to rescind the tax:
That His Majesty's subjects in these colonies, owe the same allegiance to the Crown of Great-Britain, that is owing from his subjects born within the realm, and all due subordination to that august body the Parliament of Great Britain.
2nd. That His Majesty's liege subjects in these colonies, are entitled to all the inherent rights and liberties of his natural born subjects within the kingdom of Great-Britain.
3rd. That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted right of Englishmen, that no taxes be imposed on them, but with their own consent, given personally, or by their representatives.
4th. That the people of these colonies are not, and from their local circumstances cannot be, represented in the House of Commons in Great-Britain.
5th. That the only representatives of the people of these colonies, are persons chosen therein by themselves, and that no taxes ever have been, or can be constitutionally imposed on them, but by their respective legislatures.
Parliament in fact rescinded the tax and the Prime Minister, George Grenville was dismissed; however the wheels had been set in motion for a confrontation between Parliament and the colonies over the issue of taxation. This confrontation soon erupted into armed conflict and the American Declaration of Independence.
Beginning in 1660, the British monarchy began imposing new regulations on colonial trade, including the first comprehensive Navigation Act (1660), the Wool Act (1699), the Molasses Act (1733), and the Iron Acts (1750 and 1757). At first, few Americans balked. The costs could be passed off to consumers. Smuggling could get around the import regulations. They took the regulations as indicating that the colonies had come of age. Americans thought of themselves as fully and properly English. Americans fought side by side with the British in the Seven Years’ War, known in America as the French and Indian War. Americans rejoiced to have played a role in the British victory.
In 1767, British Parliament tried again to impose a scheme of taxes on the colonial economies, in the form of duties on a variety of imported commodities. This attempt further inflamed the situation. A new system of customs officers provoked confrontations in colonial ports. On March 5, 1770, the 29th Regiment opened fire on a Boston crowd that had attacked them with stones, ice balls, and chunks of firewood; five Americans were killed. Parliament repealed the offensive taxes except on tea. The tax on tea was a way to assist another colonial venture, the East India Company and to assert Parliament’s right to govern the colonies. On the night of December 16, 1773, a group of Boston’s Sons of Liberty, disguised as Mohawk Indians, boarded three merchant ships and pitched the contents of 342 chests of East India Company tea into Boston Harbor.