British Fiscal And Commercial Policy In The Colonies After 1763

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Discuss British fiscal and commercial policy in the colonies after 1763 and assess its significance.

After its war with France, Britain decided to levy taxes on the American Colonies in order to pay off its war debts. Many taxes were imposed on the American colonies to raise revenue for the crown. Starting in 1763, British fiscal and commercial policies imposed a series of tariffs known as the Sugar, Stamp, and Townshend Acts, which internally taxed the colonists and eventually led to the American war for independence.

The Sugar Act, passed in 1764, taxed sugar by the pound. This tax had the sole purpose to bring money directly into the British treasury. At first the British taxed the sugar at 3 pence per gallon. This tax outraged the merchants, and led to smuggling of sugar and the bribing of custom officials. Aware of the smuggling in the colonies the British lowered the tax to 1 pence per gallon.

They also instituted the Vice-Admiralty Courts, which was a court used to prosecute colonists who were caught trying to smuggle sugar or bribe an official. When merchants were seized for smuggling they were taken to Nova Scotia for trial where they were guilty until proven innocent. The majority of the merchants tried were pronounced guilty because the judges were paid more to find the defendant guilty. The Sugar Act led to stricter regulations that mainly affected the merchants in the colonies.

The Stamp Act, passed in 1765, was another tariff aimed at raising revenue. It was a broad based tax, restricting all documents and therefore affecting all the colonists, especially the literate. This alarmed the colonists to the fact that more similar taxes could follow. Opposition to the Stamp Act arose and once again the Vice Admiralty Courts were used to enforce...