In 1767, the Parliament passed the Townshend Acts which placed duties on a number of essential goods, including paper, glass, and tea, and established a Board of Customs in Boston to more rigorously execute trade regulations. The new taxes were enacted on the belief that Americans only objected to internal taxes and not to external taxes such as custom duties. The Americans, however, argued against the constitutionality of the act because its purpose was to raise revenue and not regulate trade. Colonists responded by organizing new boycotts of British goods. These boycotts were less effective, however, as the Townshend goods were widely used.
Again, the conquest of Canada changed the relations between England and the colonies. So long as this old enemy hung on the north, both England and her colonies were held in check: the colonies felt a certain need of protection; England felt that a contest with the colonies might drive them to a coalition with the French. But now as this obstacle was removed both could be natural in their relations with one another; and this normal relationship soon revealed how far apart they stood. England then failed to recognize this divergence; she attempted to deal with America, not as a part of the empire, which it was, but as a part of the British realm, which it was not. 1 But for this false assumption by the British government and an attempt to act in accordance with it, the old relations might have continued for years to come. But an evil day came. The sky had been specked with a little cloud here and there for many years. Why should so many criminals from the British prisons be forced upon the colonists? This was irritating, and had been so from the earliest period of their colonization. Why was the attempt of various colonies to preserve society by checking the African slave trade summarily crushed by the Crown, in order simply to enrich the English trader? This did not indicate a mother's affection for a child. Again, the overbearing hauteur of many of the royal governors, who were supposed to represent the king, was distasteful to a people who believed themselves as good as any other Englishmen. Still again, during the late war with the French, the British officers were ever ready to show their contempt for the provincial troops, and colonial officers were often replaced by British officers. All these things were at least unpleasant for the American-Englishman to contemplate; but they were not serious, and their effects would have passed away like a morning mist but for the greater events that were to follow.