A great and necessary measure : George Grenville and the genesis of the Stamp Act, 1763-1765
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George Grenville could have upheld Parliament's sovereignty, raised a revenue, reduced smuggling, and asserted British control over the colonies by lowering the duty on foreign molasses imported into America from sixpence to one penny per gallon. But Grenville chose to set the duty at threepence instead, thereby irritating the mercantile community in the colonies. Would setting the molasses duty at one penny and collecting interest on paper currency have inspired Americans to resist parliamentary tyranny? Perhaps they would have; perhaps not. It does seem certain, though, that if resistance to these policies had occurred, it would have been a resistance shorn of substantial support from merchants, the agricultural elite of the northern colonies, and the planters of the South. In any crisis that might have arisen, Britain would have enjoyed far more support from these powerful groups in American society than she in fact did during the 1760s and 1770s. Thus, different decisions by Grenville might have totally prevented, considerably delayed, or essentially changed the American Revolution.5 How and why Grenville and his colleagues reached the fateful decisions are questions I examine in this book.
Table of Contents
The background of colonial taxation October 1760-February 1763 -- A cautious beginning: Bute's ministry and American taxation, January-March 1763 -- "The particular habits of his life": some implications of Grenville's political and administrative character -- "The first great object": obstructing the Clandestine trade to American, April-November 1763 -- Taxing molasses, July 1763-March 1764 -- The search for new sources of revenue July 1763-March 1764 -- The politics of postponing the Stamp Tax March-December 1764 -- Preparing and passing the Stamp Act December 1764-February 1765 -- Dispensing places "of emolument and of influence" December 1764-July 1765 -- Thoughts and hopes about future American Revenue March-July 1765 -- "The author of all the troubles in America" August-December 1765.