Debating the Issues in Colonial Newspapers: Primary Documents on Events of the Period

By David A. Copeland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 20
Nonimportation Agreements, 1768-1775

Following the Stamp Act crisis of 1765, the relationship between America and England deteriorated. England levied taxes, and America responded with protests. Americans from South Carolina to New England quickly realized that the best way to get the attention of king and Parliament and to harm England was through economic pressure. Assorted nonimportation agreements in 1765 forced the 1766 repeal of the Stamp Act. What had worked once, many Americans reasoned, would work again: pressure the crown to repeal the latest set of taxes placed on the colonies, the 1767 Townshend Acts, which placed a levy on tea, lead, paper, paint, and glass.

In 1768 and 1769, various merchant associations throughout America produced a set of nonimportation agreements, which stated that the tradesmen of the town would no longer import items from England or other countries if the point of origin for the supplies was England. In addition to the prohibitions upon British goods, nonimportation agreements promoted the production and use of American-made items. If Americans could refrain from using British goods, especially tea, paint, lead, glass, and paper, which were the Townshend Act taxed items, America could force England to repeal the act and increase its own stature in the empire, or so the Patriot leaders thought.

Whether the boycott increased America's stature in England is debatable, but Benjamin Franklin declared that nonimportation was a win-win proposition for Americans. "It gives me great Pleasure to hear that our People are steady in their Resolutions of Non Importation," Franklin

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