The Townshend Acts were a series of acts passed by the British Parliament in 1767 and 1768.
The acts bear the name of Charles Townshend, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, who proposed them. The general purpose of the acts was to establish a revenue flow from the colonies to Great Britain (Revenue Act) and to tighten Britain’s control over colonial governments (Commissioners of Customs Act and Vice Admiralty Court Act). Neither tactic was very effective. Colonists responded to the acts by boycotting British goods and the Massachusetts legislature drafted a Circular Letter asking other colonial legislatures to join a resistance movement. Enforcement of the Revenue Act in Boston required the deployment of British troops which led to the Boston Massacre in 1770. Ironically, Parliament rescinded most of the Revenue Act on March 5, 1770, the same day as the Boston Massacre. However, Britain did retain the importation duty imposed on tea as a symbol of Parliament’s right to tax Americans.