Why did differences between British officials and colonists over revenue-raising measures lead to a fundamental conflict over political authority within the colonies?

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The difficulty between Parliament and the colonists originated with the policy of salutary neglect. Parliament made tax laws and navigation acts for the colonists but did little to enforce them. From 1660-1763, this allowed the colonists a certain measure of self-rule that they valued. It was not until after the French and Indian War that Parliament began to enforce the restrictive laws, much to the colonists's dismay.

The colonists stated that Parliament's taxes were unfair because the colonial assemblies were not represented in the decision-making process. Parliament countered with the notion that they were not a representative body and that any Member of Parliament could speak for the good of the entire realm. This led to the colonists rebelling against what they viewed as illegal taxation. The colonists used boycotts of British goods and violence against British customs officials and counting houses. The tax laws fell on newspapers and legal documents, thus hurting the colonial elite more than the poor. This led to a small group of New England merchants becoming the leaders of colonial resistance.

The Tea Act, levied by Parliament as a tax on tea before it was consumed, brought the colonial outrage to a boil. Boycotts were ineffective against it, since the tea was taxed as soon as it arrived into the colonial harbor. This led to the Boston Tea Party rebellion and served as a major escalation in the conflict between Parliament and the American colonists.

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