Greenville Policy

Grenville Policy:

“Greenville lost America because he started reading letters coming from America.” The Whig rulers prior to Greenville never attached importance to the letters and reports which came from America. The office of “The Secretary of State for Southern Department” related to the colonies, was totally unknown to people. But the new British King George III made efforts to cultivate efficiency and speed in every branch. It kindled awareness in the departments related to America. The British economy was crumbling due to the massive involvement of England in the worldwide wars. Besides, the British industries got frustrated because the American colonies not only carried out business with other countries but also established industries there. People feared that the hectic business activities in the colonies would reduce the ratio of dividends of the British industries. Therefore, it was imperative to regulate properly every source of tax in order to gear up the economy and to eliminate the continuing position of loss. Lord Greenville observed in 1763, that a good deal of money was drained to America but very little taxes were being recovered. So he chalked out a plan to give new dimensions to economic relations between England and America in the following ways:

  • Navigation Acts should be implemented sternly and smuggling should be prevented.
  • Direct taxes should be levied on colonies.
  • By means of revenue collected from taxes, a permanent, massive army should be deployed in America to safeguard the colonies from French invasions and to secure the interests of the Red Indians.

To materialize his scheme, Greenville established a special Admiral Court in America in order to curb smuggling and the Governors were directed to implement laws and regulations strictly in colonies.

Greenville proposed four regulations that affected the colonies. Two important regulations are (i) Sugar Act (Molasses Act 1764); and (ii) Stamp Act (1765). The other two are (iii) Currency Act and (iv) Quartering Act. The Currency Act was intended to ban the prevalent bills of exchange and paper currency of the American colonies so that only the English currency could be used for business transactions. The Quatering Act, obliged the colonies to share (pay) a small portion of expenditure incurred upon the maintenance of British troops deployed in America.

The Sugar Act banned the import of rum from overseas countries except England. Under the Sugar Act, the octroi on molasses was reduced from 6 to 3 pence, but it was recovered strictly. Taxes were imposed on wine, silk, coffee, and other articles of luxury. The Border-Tax officials were ordered to enforce the Sugar Act strictly. The British warships deployed on the American Sea were directed to capture the smugglers. “The Writs of Assistance” empowered the Royal officers to search dubious places. The extensive scope of “Writs of Assitance and its strict enforcement disturbed the colonists because it frustrated their economic interest. For more than a century, the inhabitants of the New England colony had been importing major quantities of molasses for their rum factories from the French and the Dutch West- Islands without paying import duties. Now they could neither buy sugar at a cheap rate nor obtain molasses to make rum. Above all, this Act was beneficial to the British sugar dealers. Therefore their excitement was natural. This Act invoked such vigorous opposition that they pondered over the situation so much in six months as they had never done throughout their life.

In accordance with the provisions of the Stamp Act, specific Stamp paper came into use in the courts. The use of government stamp paper was made imperative to execute all judicial and non-judicial bonds and other transactions connected with newspapers, wine-selling licenses, advertisements, gambling, and for other purposes. The cost of these stamps ranged between two pence and six pounds. The defaulters who infringed the provisions of these laws were prosecuted in the Naval Courts. There was no jury in the courts and two judges passed judgment directly.

Greenville expected that his scheme would not attract opposition because the burden of taxes was not going to affect the public. But this scheme was vehemently opposed in America. The reason behind the opposition was not an economic burden but a question of principles. Opposition to this Act started immediately in the colonies. Riots broke out in Massachusetts and other cities. At some places, the houses of new stamp vendors were attacked. By and by, slogans against the policy of tax imposition by the Parliament were raised through streets, roads, cities, and villages. There was a magical spurt of committees and institutions in all the colonies of the North and in a few colonies of the South. Their only objective was to fight the Stamp Act to the end. These institutions were called- “Sons of Liberty” and “Daughters of Liberty” only. The Sons of Liberty shouted slogans on roads and in the streets. Every attempt of stamp-vending was frustrated by creating rows. Vigilance committees were also established to stop the sale of British goods and stamps by way of threats. The Sons of Liberty scared the British officials. The Daughters of Liberty also played a remarkable role. They strove hard to achieve their objective peacefully. They strengthened domestic industries by weaving cloth themselves and boycotted the purchase of taxable commodities. In this way, they rendered a great blow to the British trade.

The opposition which started in Massachusetts spread far and wide through the impressive speeches delivered by intellectuals like James Otis and Samuel Adams. Adams clearly declared that without giving representation to the people, the imposition of taxes was a process of enslaving them. Patric Henry of Vergese of Virginia declared that none other than the representative of Virginia was empowered to levy taxes. A conference was convened in New York in which the representatives of several colonies participated and challenged the basic right of taxation of the British government. The Americans held that the British government was empowered to levy only external taxes but the internal taxes (local taxes) could be imposed by the local board alone. A new slogan was coined and raised in America- “No taxation without representation”. It meant that the British Parliament devoid of American representation was not empowered to impose taxes. The traders stopped the import of goods from England until the Regulations were revoked. The pictures of human skull and bones were pasted on newspapers in place of British stamps. All these things proved that “The law could be enforced only at the point of a gun.”

The invincible opposition of the Stamp Act in America signified a new spirit and novel outlook. Earlier England treated the Americans with diffidence but now the British interference in their affairs ignited the wrath of the Americans against the British government. All the sections of colonies lacked mutual harmony, but the Stamp Act bound them in unity. Their common enemy was the new taxation policy of England. This thread of unity became the focal point of the American Revolution. In October 1765, nine colonies jointly convened a conference called the “Stamp Act Congress” in New York to demonstrate their opposition against the Stamp Act. In the Conference, some resolutions were passed even in the face of differences. They presented their claim that no tax could be imposed upon the colonies without their consent. Although they expressed their loyalty to the Emperor, it was clarified that they were invested with the inborn rights under British rule. England was greatly disturbed by the opposition put up by the American colonies against the Stamp Act. In the summer of 1765, there was a great slump in the business in the motherland. The businessmen in Bristol, London, and Liverpool were overwhelmed by miseries due to the great slump in the market. Artisans became idle for want of work in workshops. The British Government was compelled to annul the Stamp Act in 1766 and it proved to be a landmark in the revolution of opposition.

Important Links:

Ideas and Principles
Negligible Interference by British Government
No Affection for England in the American Colonies
Development of Intellectual Awareness
The Colonists Love for Freedom
Impact of Seven Years War
Economic Exploitation of the Colonies
Rockingham Declaratory Act
Townshend Tax Project
Lord North Tea Policy
Intercontinental Conference of the Congress
Declaration of Independence
Independence War of USA Significant Events
Paris Pact September 3, 1783
The Constitution of America
Causes of the Failure of the English
Nature of the Independence War of USA
American Revolution or American War of Independence