In the mid-1700's most colonists lived on a farm. The majority of these farms were self sufficient, and when farmers grew an abundance they traded and sold the extra commodities on the open market. If a farmer was to survive he would have to grow a wide diversity of crops. Before long, towns began to form, and then gradually cities began to appear. At this time, the publishing business began to prosper, and newspapers began to reach the farthest corners. Slowly but surely, the 2,000,000 British settlers who had arrived on the eastern seaboard were becoming Americans.
The British and the French fought an enormous war for control of Canada called the Seven Year War. The British won, but they were left with a national debt of 130 million pounds of sterling. They believed that the colonists should help pay for the war. They also decided that the Americans should be taxed so that they could pay for the garrison of 10,000 British regulars who were permanently assigned to protect North America from the French. The collection of royal taxes had long been considered a joke, but now it was real and the colonists didn't like it. The British started by taking away their business in trading wine barrels for Portuguese Madeira wine. Next, the British doubled the tax on non-British West Indian molasses that was used to make rum. The result was that all of the distillers went out of business. This became known as the Sugar Act. Next came the Stamp Act of 1765, which created a direct tax on licenses, legal papers, and publications. All of the colonies were now in an uproar.
The Acts had the effect of dividing the colonies between those who opposed them and those who chose to obey them. Then in 1767, Charles Townsend, the Duke of Grafton became King George III's adviser. Townsend stated that this entire uproar over Colonial taxes was “perfect nonsense.” Townsend told the colonists that since they objected to an internal tax then an external tax must be acceptable. At this time he set a rate on the taxes of almost everything imported from Great Britain including paper, glass, paint, and tea. Then in 1769, Colonel George Washington stood on the floor of the Virginia House of Burgess exclaimed that only Virginians had the right to tax Virginians. Washington was echoing the sentiments of the other colonies. Due to the uproar it had caused, the Townsend Act was soon allowed to die. At this time only the Tea Tax was still being enforced.
The East India Tea Company was in bad financial shape. Lord North, the British Prime Minister, awarded them a tea monopoly in the United States. This angered the colonists who largely didn't believe in monopolies. They especially didn't like people getting rich because of their political ties. Everywhere the tea company went they were opposed. Then as the opposition to the tax continued to mount, Sam Adams and his men warned merchants that there would be trouble if they tea arrived and they handled it. Shortly after the ships arrived in Boston they were boarded by a group of colonists who disguised themselves as Indians. The colonists threw 342 chests of tea into the harbor.
As a result, the Port of Boston was closed by the British until the Bostonians paid for the tea. This stopped almost all commerce. At the same time, the British took over the government of Massachusetts. These acts became known as the Intolerable Acts or the Coercive Acts. The colonist responded in a statement called the “Suffolk Resolves” which declared all of these acts unconstitutional.