America was propelled into the first phase of defined nationhood by the greed of the government in London and Britain’s propensity for underestimating her colonists. The second phase was initiated by the Civil War which, European influences notwithstanding, was an American production. Eighteenth-century imperial arrogance blinded a series of George Ill’s ministries to the economic and political maturing of the American colonies. Though accustomed to contributing to the wealth of the mother country, the colonists increasingly objected to remote control of their lives by taxes and regulations imposed by a government three thousand miles away. Particularly repressive and humiliating were the taxes levied by the Sugar Act (1764), the Stamp Act (1765) and the Townshend Acts (1767), which charged duties on imported glass, lead, paint, paper and tea. Resistance led to the Boston massacre in 1770, a skirmish between British troops and a crowd in Boston in which five protesters, including Crispus Attucks, a Black sailor and former slave, were shot and killed by harassed British troops. Although most of the Townshend Acts were repealed, the tax on tea remained to provoke the defiance of the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
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