The French and English both wanted to stake a claim in North America. French soldiers aided native people in a war against the colonists; the English sent soldiers to protect them. This war, The French and Indian War, lasted for almost 10 years. Although the English and the colonists ultimately won the war, victory came at a heavy financial price. And, the English were worried about other wars. They decided to keep troops in the colonies indefinitely. Paying for the war—and feeding, housing, and clothing the troops—was expensive.
Who would pay for it? The British decided that the colonists should foot the bill. The colonists did not agree.
First the British Parliament passed the Quartering Act, which said that colonists must give soldiers (known as redcoats) food and shelter.
Next, the British enforced the Navigation Acts, which was passed in the 1600s, but never used. This act said that the colonists had to buy everything from Britain and could only sell their products to Britain—even if they could get better prices and products elsewhere. To get around this law, the colonists hired smugglers to sneak products in and out of the country.
Then the British government enacted the Sugar Act, which made buying sugar very expensive.
The Stamp Act of 1765 made the colonists really mad! Every piece of paper, including newspapers, marriage licenses, wills, land deeds, and diplomas, had to have a British stamp (paid for by the colonists) to be considered legal.
The colonists were so angry about the Stamp Act that they rioted in the streets. They threw rocks through the windows of the home where the stamp tax collector lived. They made an effigy of the tax collector for Massachusetts, Andrew Oliver, and hung it in a tree. Finally, the British government repealed the Stamp Act.
In 1767, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, which placed high taxes on tea and cloth. The colonists revolted again, refusing to buy British goods. They quit drinking tea and drank coffee instead. The women made clothing from rough homespun fabric. If someone was found buying British goods, they risked being tarred and feathered.
Enact: pass or put into action
Effigy: a model or doll made to represent someone
Repeal: Remove or end
Questions and Answers
Question: What does it mean to be tarred and feathered?
Answer: Tarring and feathering was a brutal punishment. The assailants stripped their victims’ clothes and poured hot tar and feathers over them. The feathers stuck to the tar and drew blood when they were pulled off the skin.
Watch a video about the Intolerable Act.
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