The British Parliament however wanted to assert its control over
the colonies. In 1766 it passed the Declaratory Act. It affirmed Parliament’s
right to legislate for the colonies. There was not much opposition to it as it
did not introduce any new taxes. Despite the withdrawal of the Stamp Act, the
British still needed money to pay its troops and other expenses in the
colonies. Hence, the British Finance Minister Charles Townshend introduced new
duties on imports in 1767. Known as the Townshend Acts, they introduced duties
on imports to colonies such as glass, paper, paint, lead and tea. Further, the
British officers were empowered to search homes and businesses for smuggled or
There were widespread protests against the Townshend Acts.
Merchants of Boston organized boycott of British goods. Soon other colonies
joined the protest. The women formed their own organization called the ‘Daughters
of Liberty’. The leaders insisted on constitutional methods and asked the
people to remain calm. The British mobilized more troops to encounter the
protests. This angered the people further. In March 1770, resentment rose in
Boston, when troops fired on a crowd which had thrown snowballs at them. There
was firing by the troops resulting in many deaths. This incident is known as
the Boston Massacre. It led to intense anti-British propaganda through
newspapers, posters and pamphlets.
As a result of protests and boycotts, the British Parliament
repealed the Townshend Acts. However, it retained the tax on tea, with the
intention of encouraging the business of the East India Company by making it
easy for it to take its tea to America and sell it there. This harmed the local
tea trade and so it was decided to boycott this foreign tea.