Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend (1725-67) next pushed through Parliament a bundle of acts intended to raise revenue, tighten customs enforcement, and assert imperial authority in America. Enacted on June 29, 1767, the so-called Townshend Acts levied import duties on glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea. Additional bills in the package authorized “writs of assistance” (blanket search warrants), created additional jury-less vice-admiralty courts, established a board of customs commissioners headquartered in Boston, and suspended the New York assembly for its defiance of the Quartering Act of 1765.
Samuel Adams, of the Massachusetts Sons of Liberty, sent a “circular letter” to the other 12 colonies calling for renewal of the non-importation agreements. Royal customs officials in Boston were attacked after they seized a ship belonging to the merchant John Hancock. The beleaguered officials requested a contingent of English troops to occupy Boston.
During 1768-69, all the colonies except New Hampshire boycotted English goods, and the Virginia House of Burgesses, led by Patrick Henry, created the Virginia Association to enforce the boycott. At this, the royal governor of Virginia dissolved the House of Burgesses, thereby further inflaming anti-British passions. However, in April 1770, Parliament again bowed to the pressure and repealed all the Townshend duties-except for a tax on tea.