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For Imposing Taxes on us Without our Consent

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The section of the Declaration of Independence titled “The Charges Against the King is extremely important. The English Declaration of Rights included a similar section, so without indicating the revolutions’ causes it would have been very difficult to justify independence. Today and during the time of the revolution many of the accusations seemed rather weak and unsupported. However there were some that were considered by all to be significant infractions. One of these is “no taxation without representation” or more specifically “For imposing taxes on us without our consent.

The fact that England was taxing the people without representation was by no means a trivial matter. The principle of no taxation without representation dates back to Magna Carta in 1215. The Magna Carta would later become the basis for English law and is actually cited in the Petition of Right of 1628. In fact taxation without representation was the primary reason for the revolution in England and the execution of Charles I. The English considered the right of no taxation without representation to be very sacred as well.

The rationalization that the English used to reconcile this abuse was something called virtual representation. This idea was that if someone was a British subject they were represented by all the members of Parliament. This idea was absurd and was especially ridiculous for Americans who were thousands of miles away from England. The English really had no idea of what life was like in the colonies so how can they claim to represent the colonies. The colonists despised the idea of virtual representation. They were either represented or they were not.

The colonists clung to the principle of no taxation without representation with consistency. The government in England replied that the government could not be divided between legislative power in London and taxing power in the colonies. This forced the colonists to deny the authority of Parliament altogether and to begin considering independence. This was one very important step on the road to revolution.

It was not just a single tax that the colonists found to be so upsetting but it was the combination of them all that made that colonists feel bogged down. They were the Sugar Act (1764) the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767. The Stamp Act of 1765 required all legal documents, licenses, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets and even playing cards to carry a tax stamp. This tax was in your everywhere for the colonists. It was often the reason that the Sons of Liberty and the Daughters of Liberty violently protested. They would ransack houses of popular officials, confiscated money an hanged effigies of stamp agents on liberty poles. The stamp act created much of the tension between England and the colonists that would eventually lead to revolution.

Another very important tax was the Townshend Acts of 1767. They imposed a light import duty on glass, white lead, paper, paint, and tea. The Townshend Acts were not too unreasonable but the colonists were on the look out for any kind of tax that might jeopardize their liberties. It was not an “in your face” type of tax as the stamp tax was, but nonetheless the colonist saw it as a British effort to suppress their liberties. The Townshend acts wer eventually repealed. That is all but he tea tax. This tax affected the estimated 1 million people that drank it each day. The Boston tea party and the colonist refusal to pay back the lost tea and the Boston massacre only caused tensions to build even more.

The colonist began to realize that the taxes they were paying to support the troops in the New World did not benefit them in any way. All the threats from the French and Indian war had been eliminated. So what then was the purpose of the British even being here. They came to the conclusion that it was to suppress and contain the colonists.

The principle of “no taxation without representation” was very important to the colonist who had a good understanding of history and of the English Revolution. The colonists were angry with Britain for other reasons as well such as their sealed economic system. The grievance of taxation without representation was an age old right that they could use to justify their independence.

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