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The Prime Ministry of Lord North

Lord NorthLord North

On January 31, 1770, Lord North ascended to the Prime Ministership of Great Britain. He was favored by King George III and his strength in leadership did return some stability to the Parliament following a series of disastrous Prime Ministerships.

The Stamp Act and all of the Townshend Duties, save the one on tea, had been repealed. The Declaratory Act still stood, although it was little more than a statement.

For about three years, Lord North managed to restrain the activities of the Parliament so as not to feed American colonial resentment. He brought this about, in part, by finding other mechanisms to generate revenue to pay off Britain's massive national debt (see the Seven Years' War.)

He successfully employed a lottery to raise revenue without increasing English land taxes, and removing the pressure to resume or increase taxes on the colonies. However, in an effort to salvage the East India Tea Company, North miscalculated the strength of colonial sentiments. The Tea Act of 1773, designed to rescue the near bankrupt company, was to generate capitol from the colonies by shipping surplus tea there directly and selling it through a network of consignment agents. The intention was to remove the Townshend tea duty (the last remaining "external tax".) Lord North intervened on this point however — the tax was not eliminated, but merely reduced by half. The patriot movement in Massachusetts saw this act as creating a practical monopoly on the sale of tea for the East India Company, and as a shallow ploy to mollify the colonies into the continued payment of taxes to Britain. Agitation in Massachusetts proceeded anew, eventually bringing about the Boston Tea Party. This lead to the Coercive Acts (Intolerable Acts) which were calculated to force Massachusetts into compliance with British authority, but ultimately brought on the War of Independence.

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