What Were The 5 Townshend Acts?


What Were The 5 Townshend Acts?

One of our users, Alex, asked us about the five main laws that come under the Townshend Acts of 1767.

So, to answer this question, we have prepared this short post.

Here we will show you what they are and how they really influenced the history of America.

Answer In Short & Quick:

  1. The New York Restraining Act
  2. The Revenue Act
  3. Indemnity Act
  4. Commissioners of Customs Act
  5. The Vice-Admiralty Court Act

What Were The 5 Townshend Acts

1. The New York Restraining Act of 1767

The New York Restraining Act of 1767 was the very first Townshend act among all the five.

The Parliament of Great Britain passed it on 5th June.

This act intercepted New York’s assembly to pass any bills.

Historians say the interception on the New York assembly was like revenge from the British side for not implementing the Quartering act of 1765.

However, the New York restraining Act never got implemented.

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2. The Revenue Act of 1767

The Revenue Act of 1767 was the second Townshend act, passed on the 26th of July.

This act was passed to impose indirect taxes on the American colonists.

Mainly, it taxed over some necessary goods, such as lead, paper, paint, glass, etc.

This was the act, which provided the customs officials’ broad authority to punish the smugglers and search private property and vessels without any special search warrant (the act provided them a General search warrant).

This law of the British Parliament angered the American people to a great extent. Especially merchants. 

What Were The 5 Townshend Acts
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3. The Indemnity Act of 1767

The Indemnity act of 1767 was passed on 29th June.

This act’s main purpose was to protect and enforce British Mercantilism policies.

Some giant English companies, such as the British East India Company, enjoyed special privileges to dominate markets through the new law.

The English government did it by reducing these companies’ taxes on imports and exports. 

They mainly passed this act to monopolize the whole tea market in their colonies of North America.

It was an initiative from the British Parliament to make colonists bound to buy only East India Company’s tea.

The indemnity act worked like an attack on all other tea businesses of the 13 colonies.


4. The Commissioners of Customs Act of 1767

The same day of the Indemnity act passed, the British parliament also passed the Commissioners of Customs act.

The date was 29th June 1767.

Its main purpose was to create a new custom board in the 13 colonies.

Through the boards, they intended to squeeze shipping regulations more and impose heavy taxes on the colonists.

The Commissioners of Customs Act ordered to appoint 5 commissioners to get the work done.

Its headquarter was in Boston.

Before the act passed, the customs enforcement handle office was located in Britain.

Due to the long way distance, their actions on shipping regulations and taxes were quite weaker.

For this reason, it was much harder to prevent customs law violations and smuggling.

So, to make this process stronger, they passed this new act and moved the office to Boston, America.


5. The Vice-Admiralty Court Act of 1768

The Vice-Admiralty Court Act of 1768 was the very last act of all the five Townshend acts. This was approved on 6th July.

The Parliament of Great Britain didn’t pass it.

It came into effect through the approval of British King George III.

The Vice-Admiralty Court Act of 1768 mainly targeted ending smuggling and customs violation.

However, due to the sudden death of Lord Charles Townshend in 1767’s September month, some people don’t want to include it in the list of Townshend acts; even after, it had similar intent with the other four.

Colonists were angry as it encouraged royally appointed officials and judges to accuse colonists without any custom crime.

The new law promised a 5 percent commission as an award to the officials if they were able to convict a colonist in a smuggling or customs law violation case.


What Was The Extreme Result of The Townshend Acts?

The extreme result of the 5 Townshend Acts was widespread protest and violence throughout all the 13 colonies.

On 5th March 1770, a protest took violent form, where some British red coats shot and killed 5 protestors including 6 got badly injured.

In the history of America, the killing is infamous as the Boston Massacre.

As a result, on 12th April 1770, the British parliament had to partially repeal the laws. 


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