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Benjamin Steephenson

7th- S.S

April 22, 2009

DBQ Essay

Between 1763 and 1775 the relationship between Great Britain and its colonies grew

increasingly tense. Taxation without representation was a fierce argument between the colonists

and the British. This essay describes the viewpoints of some influential people and numerous

reasons why people supported a side of the argument. It is also stated different ways people

reacted to certain events.

George Greenville (Document 1), a Member of Parliament, stated on January 14, 1766

that Great Britain is ultimately sovereign. Britain has supreme legislative power over the

colonies, and that includes the ability to tax the colonies. Greenville supported Great Britain’s

side of the argument by presenting a big reason to tax the colonies. Greenville blames the

colonies for the national debt. Britain had to pay a large sum of money to protect the colonies

during the French and Indian War. Now it is the colonies time to be called to pay for expenses.

The colonies are part of England. In everything they are British. Dr. Samuel Johnson

(Document 4) used this fact to support Parliament’s ability to tax the colonies. The colonists are

entitled to all English rights. If the colonists are governed by English laws, regulated by English

council, and protected by the English army, shouldn’t they also pay English taxes?
King George III (Document 5) supported Parliament’s rights to tax by stating that the

only reason for the arguments is the traitorous view of the leaders in the colonies. The king says

that the Great Britain is the freest society in the whole world. The people in the colonies should

just change their views and should realize this truth. This would stop all the violence such as that

of the Boston Massacre.

The reasons why Britain pursued its policies despite opposition revolved around the need

for money and the extent Great Britain would go for the money. Britain was in massive debt

because of the colonists during the French and Indian War. No matter how hard the colonists

opposed, that money would need to be paid. Taxing the colonists was the easiest to get that

money, so Britain persisted in this method.

George Washington (Document 3) supported the Patriot cause. He believes that

representation is required to pass likes like the Intolerable Acts and the Townshend Acts.

Parliament needs the colonies’ consent in the legislation of laws. He even says that “I think that

the Parliament of Great Britain hath no more right to put their hands into my pockets, without my

consent, than I have to put my hands into yours for money.” Washington also stated that

representation is a right the colonists had, but petitioning Parliament would degrade the purpose

of that right. It would be like “asking a favor and not claiming a right.”

Thomas Paine (Document 7) wrote the Crisis, a pamphlet that encouraged fighting for

freedom. The crisis states that Britain rules with tyranny. One reason to fight against Britain is

that it was way too powerful. Britain even declared that they had the right to not only to tax, but

to also bind the people in all cases whatsoever. Britain had complete political control over its

colonies and was abusing its power. The colonists were bound by Britain, giving a reason to fight

for freedom.
The laws passed by Britain had awful effects on the colonists. The best way to protest

taxes is boycott, or refusal to buy a certain good. In Document 2, we see how taxes affected

sales. Sales lowered when the Sugar Act was passed. When the Townshend Acts were repealed,

sales skyrocketed. The Intolerable Acts led to a nosedive in sales. Boycotts weren’t the only way

the colonists reacted. People published propaganda, attacked tax collectors, and in the long run,

separated from Britain.

The argument between Britain and the colonies has many important points. The British

demand that the colonies pay taxes because they caused the debt and they are responsible for

paying taxes. America wants representation before taxation instead of being completely ruled by

the tyranny of Great Britain. This argument and several consequential events led to the American

Revolution, in which the colonies broke away from Britain.