Taxes in the Colonies

Declaration of Independence

Taxes in the Colonies - The Declaration of Independence

This article on the Taxes in the Colonies of Colonial America which led to anger, dissension, insurrection and rebellion by the early colonists. Taxes in the Colonies include:

  • Taxes in the Colonies - the Navigation Acts
  • Taxes in the Colonies - the Sugar Act
  • Taxes in the Colonies - Stamp Act
  • Taxes in the Colonies - the Townshend Acts
American Colonies Index
Taxation in the Colonies

History of the 13 Colonies and the laws & taxes that sparked rebellion against the British

Taxes in the Colonies and the cry of "No taxation without representation!"

Taxes in the Colonies
Taxes in the Colonies article covers the time in early American history up to the American Revolution and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The colonists were becoming increasingly incensed by the demands made and taxes required by Great Britain, the sovereign state. Taxes in the Colonies had become a major issue.

Taxes in the Colonies
The Taxes in the Colonies which caused so much anger and resentment were:

  • The Navigation Acts (1651,1660 & 1663)
  • The Plantation Duty Act (1673)
  • The Sugar Act (1764)
  • The Stamp Act (1765)
  • The Townshend Acts (1767)
  • The Tea Act (1773)

Taxes in the Colonies - Rebellion & Insurrection
Taxes in the Colonies sparked rebellions & insurrection including:

  • Bacon's Rebellion
  • Culpeper’s Rebellion
  • Leisler's Rebellion
  • Insurrection - the Sons of Liberty
  • The Boston Tea Party
  • The American Revolutionary War

Map of Thirteen Colonies

Map of the Thirteen Colonies
New England Colonies
Middle Colonies            
Southern Colonies       

  Common Law Plaque - Jamestown

Common Law - Charter Plaque
Jamestown Island Virginia


Taxes in the Colonies - English Common Law
On April 10, 1606 King James I of England issued the 1606 First Virginia Charter which created the Virginia Company authorizing eight Englishmen to colonize "that part of America commonly called Virginia"

When the first colonists landed in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 they brought the English Common Law with them. The term "common law" was the name given to the law that emerged as "common" throughout the realm of England. Refer to Colonial Government

In May 17, 1959, the Virginia State Bar dedicated a plaque at Jamestown honoring that the 1606 Virginia Charter's "principles have inspired the development of our system of freedom under law, which is at once our dearest possession and proudest achievement"

Taxes in the Colonies - British Laws and Taxes
Discover interesting  facts and information about the Taxes in the Colonies which were imposed on the colonists of Colonial America by the British. The Taxes in the Colonies divided Great Britain and its colonies in America. Government in the colonies represented an extension of the British government. The court systems and courts in the colonies enforced the Common Law of England and Great Britain. The Taxes in the Colonies led to anger, resentment, dissension and ultimately rebellion in Colonial America - the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and the Declaration of Independence.

Taxes in the Colonies - "No Taxation without Representation!"
The cry of "No taxation without representation!" went up from the colonists in America. This statement meant that no British subject should be taxed unless his representative sat as a member in the Parliament which had voted the law. 

History Timeline of the Taxes in the Colonies
The seeds of revolution were sewn when the colonists and settlers were subjected to Taxes in the Colonies. The fastest way to gain an overview of the number of taxes imposed and the timing of the taxes is via a History Timeline of Taxes in the Colonies.

History Timeline of the Taxes in the Colonies
Taxes in the Colonies

16511651,1660 & 1663 The Navigation Acts. The colonies represented a lucrative source of wealth and trade - refer to Triangular Trade. The Navigation Acts were designed to regulate colonial trade and enable England to collect duties (taxes) in the Colonies. The Slave Plantations were established during this period

1661The Tariff of 1661 imposed a series of duties on the importation of goods to Britain from foreign countries and colonies

1663The Navigation Act of 1663, also called the Act for the Encouragement of Trade or the Staple Act, was passed in the English Parliament

1673The Navigation Act of 1673 (aka the Plantation Duty Act) was enacted to the plantations to trade exclusively with England and to redirect revenue to England. The Plantation Duty Act placed a penny tax on each pound of tobacco, it required a five-shilling tax for every hundred weight of sugar and finally Tax Collectors were appointed in the colonies. There were numerous objections to the tax which contributed greatly to the Culpeper Rebellion of 1677.

1675The Lords of Trade were appointed in England to enforce the new mercantile system and maximize potential profits for England

16751675-l676 Bacon's Rebellion Nathaniel Bacon rebelled against a corrupt Governor, low prices for tobacco and high taxes that were believed to be unjust

1677Culpeper’s Rebellion: Rebellion against the Colonial Government in Carolina and the Navigation Acts led by John Culpeper. The rebellion succeeded in disposing the governor and placing Culpeper in his position. John Culpeper was removed in 1679

1688King James II appointed Sir Edmund Andros to serve as Captain General and Governor in Chief of New England. Sir Edmund Andros caused dissension with the colonists as he did not have to answer to any elected assembly

16881688 - 1763 The French and Indian Wars between France and Great Britain for lands in North America

1689February 1689 The Glorious Revolution. The Protestant William III and Mary II officially replace the Catholic James II as monarchs of England. The English Bill of Rights enables Parliament to control laws and taxes in the Colonies in America

1689March 1689 The Glorious Revolution Sparks Revolt in the colonies. Boston militia seized Sir Edmund Andros and put him in jail.

1689Leisler's Rebellion. Jacob Leisler (1640-1691) was a German immigrant who led the insurrection against local colonial officials from 1689 to 1691 in colonial New York

1696Salutary Neglect. Salutary neglect was an English policy used to avoid the strict enforcement of parliamentary laws in Colonial America. This gave the colonies considerable freedom in economic matters and was designed to keep the American colonies obedient to England. The English government established the Board of Trade to oversee colonial policies.

1696Robert Walpole becomes Britain's first prime minister. Walpole promoted a relaxed attitude toward enforcement of colonial trade laws, thereby approving the Policy of Salutary Neglect.

1699Parliament passes the Wool Act, which prohibits the export of American made cloth from its colony of origin.

17071707 The Union between England and Scotland created the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain' and the term British, as opposed to English, is then used in reference to the colonists in North America.

1732Parliament passes the Hat Act, preventing the trade of American-made hats leading to the Beaver Wars

1732Debt Recovery Act, which declared land and slaves to be the equivalent of property for the purpose of satisfying debts owed by colonists.

1733Navigation Act of 1733, also known as the Molasses Act levied heavy taxes on sugar from the West Indies to the American colonies forcing colonists to purchase the more costly sugar from Britain

1750The Iron Act was designed to restrict the manufacturing activities in the colonies

1763The end of the French and Indian War (Seven years War) left the British with a massive war debt. George Grenville became the British Prime Minister and to pay the war debt the British, under the leadership of Grenville ended their policy of Salutary Neglect in the colonies. The British started to enforce the laws of the Navigations Acts and looked for ways of imposing new taxes in the colonies.

1763Proclamation of 1763 was an attempt by the British crown to separate white settlements from Indian country

1764Sugar Act - Law passed by the British Parliament setting a tax on sugar and molasses imported into the colonies impacting the manufacture of rum in New England. The Sugar Act was repealed in 1766 and replaced with the Revenue Act of 1766, which reduced the tax on molasses imports  - also refer to Colonial, Continental and Revolutionary Currency

1764Currency Act - Series of Laws passed by the British Government that regulated paper money issued by the colonies

1765The Quartering Act: The first of a series of Laws requiring the provision of housing, food and drink to British troops stationed in towns designed to improve the living conditions of troops whilst decreasing the cost to the crown

1765The Stamp Act of 1765 placed a stamp duty (tax) on legal papers, newspapers and pamphlets. Vehement opposition by the Colonies, led by patriots such as Patrick Henry,  resulted in the repeal of the act in 1766.

1765The Sons of Liberty. The Sons of Liberty was an an organization (a secret society) formed by American Patriots who opposed British measures against the colonists, and agitated for resistance

1765The Nonimportation Agreements (1765–75). Associations were organized by Sons of Liberty and Whig merchants to boycott English goods In response to new taxes. American colonists were discouraged from purchasing of British imports.

1766The Declaratory Act: Declaration by the British Parliament that accompanied repeal of the Stamp Act stating that Parliament's authority was the same in America as in Britain and asserted Parliament's authority to make laws binding on the American colonies

1767Townshend Acts - Series of Laws passed by the British Parliament placing duties on items imported by the colonists including glass, lead, paints, paper and tea. The reaction from the colonists was so intense that Great Britain eventually repealed all the taxes except the one on tea. Acts included the the Revenue Act of 1767, the Indemnity Act, the Commissioners of Customs Act, the Vice Admiralty Court Act and the New York Restraining Act

1770March 5, 1770: The Boston Massacre during which British troops killed 5 Boston civilians.

1773Tea Act - Law passed by the British Parliament allowing the British East India Company to sell its low-cost tea directly to the colonies, undermining colonial tea merchants. The introduction of the Tea Act led to the Boston Tea Party

1774December 16: The Boston Tea Party - Massachusetts patriots dressed as Mohawk Indians protested against the British Tea Act

1774Intolerable (Coercive) Acts: The Intolerable Acts also known as Coercive Acts were a were a reprisal to the Boston Tea party rebellion. A package of five laws aimed at restoring authority in its colonies
  • March 31, 1774: The Boston Port Act
  • May 20, 1774: The Massachusetts Government Act
  • May 20, 1774: The Administration of Justice Act
  • June 2, 1774: The Quartering Act
  • June 22, 1774: The Quebec Act established on June 22, 1774

1774First Continental Congress 

1775March 23, 1775 - Patrick Henry delivered his famous speech in St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia.

177550 Facts about the Declaration of Independence

The American Revolution (1775- 1783) ended the Colonial America Time Period

Taxes in the Colonies
History Timeline of the Taxes in the Colonies

Taxes in the Colonies

"No taxation without representation!" the cry of the colonists. The Taxes in the Colonies History Timeline will help to put this into perspective. Understanding the meaning of the laws and taxes and the order in which they were instigated will hopefully make further studies of the individual taxes easier!

Taxes in the Colonies

  • Interesting Facts and information about Taxes in the Colonies

  • Taxes in the Colonies history timeline

  • Fast Facts and info with Taxes in the Colonies timeline

  • Taxes in the Colonies is great history timeline resource for kids

  • Social Studies Homework help for kids on Taxes in the Colonies

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