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When the Americans sought independence from the British, Britain was already a military and fiscal superpower. The thirteen American colonies were a small part of the expanded British Empire. The Americans wanted independence from Britain, and were willing to fight to gain independence. What is puzzling is why did the American start a war with Britain considering the size and capabilities of the British army? And further how did they defeat the world’s greatest military power?. During the seventeenth century the British Parliament enacted legislation entitled the Navigation Acts, which stipulated that all trade must be carried out on British ships only, regardless the port of destination.
In addition Britain imposed certain land reforms because of changes in the fundamental land policy. Contrary to its previous policy of encouraging land settlements in the west, the British decided to stop all settlements immediately, and evict those Americans who had already settled there and had cultivated their settled land. Enforcement of these rules was given to the British army, which had to be financed with taxes that were collected from the colonies.
Despite other options for providing finances for the army, why did the British suddenly raise taxes and discouraged settlements? The answer is obvious, that the seven year war with France had cost a lot of money, and they needed these new taxes to fund their army. The new tax structure was implemented in accordance with the Act of 1764, which was suggested by the Prime Minister of Britain. This act decreased the tariff on non-British products from the West Indies, and also enforced the collection of taxes. This was done to reduce smuggling and increase revenues. Next the British Parliament passed an Act known as the “stamp act” which required stamps for a wide assortment of legal documents including newspapers and pamphlets. The stamp duties were expected to generate adequate income to pay a major portion of the cost of the Army.
Next Parliament passed the Quartering Act, which required the colonists to supply British military units with accommodation, necessities and transportation. This was followed by the Townsend Acts, which forced tariffs upon a large assortment of imported goods, and established a Board of Customs Commissioners to collect these taxes. The American colonists initially opposed this tax measure peacefully by exerting influence and petitioning parliament. Since that had no effect, the Americans proposed to boycott all British goods. This boycott succeeded to the extent that English merchants lobbied parliament for reassessment of these measures. Thereby parliament revoked all imposed tariffs with the exception of the duties on tea.
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