British Colonial Policy, 1754-1765

By George Louis Beer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
PROPOPOSED TAXATION OF THE COLONIES, 1754-1756

THE failure of the schemes for union in 1754, and the disinclination of the colonies not only to assist one another, but even to provide each for its own defence in an adequate manner, brought up the question of parliamentary taxation. Legally, Parliament could impose such a tax, though hitherto it had, in general, refrained from so doing. It had, however, passed several statutes regulating colonial matters, which were in the form of revenue bills.

In 1673,1 Parliament had imposed small duties on a number of colonial products, chiefly tobacco, sugar, cotton, and ginger, when exported from one English colony to another. The chief purpose of this act was to prevent the evasion of the "enumeration" provision of a previous statute prohibiting the direct exportation of these commodities to foreign countries, but it was intended also to raise some revenue.2 A small

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1
25 Ch. II, c. 7, § 11.
2
The act of 1673 refers to the navigation act of 1660, which allowed these products to be shipped from one English colony to another free of duty, "while the subjects of this your kingdom of England have paid great customs and impositions for what of them have been spent here." It refers likewise to the fact that taking advantage of this immunity, the colonies have shipped these "enumerated" commodities direct to Europe. It was thus apparently the purpose of the act to put the colonial consumer on the same footing as the English consumer, and to prevent the illegal trader, who shipped these prod-

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