During the period of salutary neglect, the thirteen colonies enjoyed the liberty of home rule while England was preoccupied with domestic and regional strife. However, “England took the first steps toward greater control of its colonies…within a decade of the Glorious Revolution” (Stockwell, 2012). With the intention of protecting the interests of the motherland, Parliament enacted several laws, such as the Navigation Acts and the Manufacturing Acts – exemplifying this new economic practice of mercantilism. Though this disrupted trade in many parts of the colonies, “enforcement remained lax, and the majority of colonists…were willing to accept them” (Stockwell, 2012).
However, the French and Indian War – globally known as the Seven Years’ War – as well as the revolt of Pontiac, caused a shift in British colonial policy. Expenses incurred from the war, for the protection of colonists, indebted the motherland. The revolt revealed that there would further conflict between the Native Americans and the colonists – who expected protection from the British army. As a result, Parliament passed the Proclamation of 1763 to accommodate the Indians – whose fur trade attracted the British. This law, and the laws of revenue to counter the costs of colonial administration, created the tension between Great Britain and its colonies.
The colonists objected to these laws – claiming that only their representatives could pass laws that affect them. They believed in direct representation while the British believed in virtual representation – “meaning a representative could stand for election in any district, even one in which he did not live” (Stockwell, 2012). The colonists’ objections seemed traitorous to British ears, as they believed that no one “could question the laws of Parliament because this would endanger the health of the body politic” (Stockwell, 2012).
At the height of the tension, the colonists resisted through the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre, as well through boycotts of British goods. In response, the British passed the Declaratory Act – which “stated that Parliament’s taxing authority was the same in America as in Great Britain” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2013). Parliament also issued the Massachusetts Government Act, which limited the governing authority of the towns of Massachusetts – altering their right to vote and their right to assembly.