British Colonial Policy, 1754-1765

By George Louis Beer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
THE REVENUE ACTS OF 1764 AND 1765

EARLY in the year 1763, it was definitely known that it was the intention of the British government to keep an army of ten thousand men in America, and that the colonies were expected to contribute to its support. The statesman who carried this policy into effect was George Grenville. Of a scientific and unimaginative temperament, with a distinctly legal cast of mind, he adopted a policy fraught with disastrous consequences. The justice of the demand that the colonies should defray in part the cost of their permanent military establishment was clear to all. The old requisition system was patently unworkable. Hence inevitably recourse was taken to parliamentary taxation, of whose formal legality there could be but little doubt. In adopting this policy, Grenville met with no opposition in Great Britain, and the attitude of the colonies was such that he had little, if any, reason to foresee the gravity of its results. On March 12, 1763, the agent of Massachusetts officially informed the colony of the contemplated step, yet eleven months later he was still without instructions, and consequently did not work against the measure. "Nor do I find," he wrote, "the least disposition in the other agents to oppose it."1 It remained then to

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1
Jasper Mauduit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Massachusetts, Feb. 11, 1764. Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll. Series I, vol. VI, pp. 194-195.

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