In the aftermath of the French and Indian War, London saw a need for a new imperial design that would involve more centralized control,

spread the costs of empire more eq- uitably, and speak to the interests of both French Canadians and North American Indians . The colonies, on the other hand, long accustomed to a large measure of independence, ex- pected more, not less, freedom . And, with the French menace eliminated, they felt far less need for a strong British presence . A scarcely compre- hending Crown and Parliament on the other side of the Atlantic found itself contending with colonists trained in self-government and im- patient with interference .

The organization of Canada and of the Ohio Valley necessitated policies that would not alienate the French and Indian inhabitants . Here London was in fundamental conflict with the interests of the colonies . Fast increasing in population, and needing more land for settlement,


“The Revolution was effected before the war commenced.

The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of

the people.”

Former President John Adams, 1818



they claimed the right to extend their boundaries as far west as the Mississippi River .

The British government, fear- ing a series of Indian wars, believed that the lands should be opened on a more gradual basis . Restricting movement was also a way of ensur- ing royal control over existing settle- ments before allowing the formation of new ones . The Royal Proclama- tion of 1763 reserved all the west- ern territory between the Allegheny Mountains, Florida, the Mississippi River, and Quebec for use by Na- tive Americans . Thus the Crown at- tempted to sweep away every western land claim of the 13 colonies and to stop westward expansion . Although never effectively enforced, this mea- sure, in the eyes of the colonists, con- stituted a high-handed disregard of their fundamental right to occupy and settle western lands .

More serious in its repercus- sions was the new British revenue policy . London needed more money to support its growing empire and faced growing taxpayer discontent at home . It seemed reasonable enough that the colonies should pay for their own defense . That would involve new taxes, levied by Parliament — at the expense of colonial self-government .

The first step was the replacement of the Molasses Act of 1733, which placed a prohibitive duty, or tax, on the import of rum and molas- ses from non-English areas, with the Sugar Act of 1764 . This act outlawed the importation of foreign rum; it also put a modest duty on molas-

ses from all sources and levied taxes on wines, silks, coffee, and a num- ber of other luxury items . The hope was that lowering the duty on mo- lasses would reduce the temptation to smuggle the commodity from the Dutch and French West Indies for the rum distilleries of New England . The British government enforced the Sugar Act energetically . Customs of- ficials were ordered to show more effectiveness . British warships in American waters were instructed to seize smugglers, and “writs of assis- tance,” or warrants, authorized the king’s officers to search suspected premises .

Both the duty imposed by the Sug- ar Act and the measures to enforce it caused consternation among New England merchants . They contended that payment of even the small duty imposed would be ruinous to their businesses . Merchants, legislatures, and town meetings protested the law . Colonial lawyers protested “taxation without representation,” a slogan that was to persuade many Ameri- cans they were being oppressed by the mother country .

Later in 1764, Parliament enact- ed a Currency Act “to prevent pa- per bills of credit hereafter issued in any of His Majesty’s colonies from being made legal tender .” Since the colonies were a deficit trade area and were constantly short of hard cur- rency, this measure added a serious burden to the colonial economy . Equally objectionable from the co- lonial viewpoint was the Quartering Act, passed in 1765, which required

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