What was the significance of the Townshend Acts?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Townshend Acts were important because they were another example of new taxes levied by the British government in an attempt to raise money to help offset the cost of running the colonies. The colonists had strongly opposed the Stamp Act because they believed that they didn’t have representatives in Parliament that could speak about and vote on the proposed taxes. The taxes created by the Townshend Acts reignited this debate.

The taxes created by the Townshend Acts were a little different from those created by the Stamp Act. The taxes created by the Stamp Act were paid at the point of sale. Thus, the Stamp Act was an example of direct taxation, as the colonists could see the tax added to the price of the item. The taxes created by the Townshend Acts were on imports. Thus, these were paid by the importer and then passed on to the colonists. This was a form of indirect taxation, as the taxes were already included in the final price of the product that the colonists paid.

The Townshend Acts led to more protests by the colonists, including agreements not to import products from Great Britain. Ultimately, all taxes created by the Townshend Acts were repealed after the Boston Massacre, except for the tax on tea. The Townshend Acts were another example of events that led to the deterioration of relations between the British and the colonists.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the other educator has highlighted, the Townshend Acts caused a lot of anger in the colonies. But they were also significant because they led to the introduction of the Boston Non-Importation Agreement (in 1768) in which a number of leading Boston traders and merchants decided not to import or export any goods to and from Great Britain. In essence, this was a boycott of British goods which sent a strong message to the British government that the colonies would not be taxed in such a manner. To this end, the Non-Importation Agreement was a success: between 1768-1769, the importation of goods from Britain declined by half (See the first reference link provided). This had serious economic implications for British traders who exported goods to America.

This agreement contributed to the British government's decision to scrap the Townshend Acts in 1770.

You can read the full text of the Boston Non-Importation Agreement using the second reference link provided. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The taxes that were imposed by the Townshend Acts of 1767 were important because they helped to reignite anger in the colonies against England.

Just the year before, Parliament had repealed the Stamp Tax after heated protests from the colonies.  In 1767, however, Charles Townshend decided to impose new taxes.  These new taxes, which were import duties on things like glass, paper, and tea, made the colonists angry all over again.  In response, the Sons of Liberty reorganized, new boycotts were called, and tax collectors were assaulted again (as they had been over the Stamp Tax).

By imposing these taxes, Townshend made the eventual revolution more likely besides making the colonists angry all over again.