No Taxation without Representation

Taxes led to protests.
A British ship (to the left) firing at a French ship during the Seven Years’ War.
Indian warriors flee as British troops are advancing up the hill.
Red color: British-controlled areas before the Seven Years’ War. Red and pink color: British-controlled areas after the Seven Years’ War.
George III, king of Great Britain.

Britain gained control of the eastern half of North America after winning the Seven Years’ War against France, which ended in 1763. The war, though, had been costly, and future defenses of the extended British North American Empire looked expensive. Because of this, Britain decided to let the colonists themselves pitch in by imposing a new tax. As Britain saw it, the colonists were now merely to pay for some of their own defenses.

Wanting to be equals

Nevertheless, some colonists of British descent rejected the new tax. In doing so, they also coined the now famous phrase no taxation without representation. The implied meaning of the phrase was that the British parliament must not tax people in the colonies if the colonists were not allowed to elect their own representatives to the British parliament. In other words, the colonists wanted to take part in decisions that affected them or be left alone, a position stemming from the notion that American colonists should be seen as equal to Britons from Britain, and not be considered British subjects.

Giving in to former enemies

Another grievance that many English-speaking colonists had with the motherland after winning the Seven Years’ War regarded Britain allowing the defeated French-Canadian and Native American populations to stay, and even hold sway, in newly-won British North American territories. This decision to permit former enemies to remain had been made in an attempt to establish long-term peace in North America, but the colonists didn’t buy this reasoning. In their view, the Seven Years’ War had been fought to oust the annoying Frenchmen and Indians who blocked westward expansion. Now, despite the British victory, large Indian reserves and French fur trappers still blocked westward expansion.

The double-downer of having to both pay taxes and being unable to move the frontier westward spurred discontent, and, over time, prompted groups of people to engage in loud protests. These protests, as explained in the next chapter, were to ultimately lead to a revolt against Britain.