Taking Liberties

Parliament's attempts in the 1760s and 1770s to raise enough revenue to pay for the defense of the American colonies and the cost of the Seven Years War treaded on increasingly unstable constitutional grounds. Although many people on both sides of the Atlantic continued to adhere to the traditional view of the British constitution that collective freedom was guaranteed by a sovereign Parliament that represented the shared interests of its peoples, an increasing number of Americans came to believe that was not so. Arguments against the Stamp Act and Townshend duties, for instance, gave rise to claims to constitutional liberty in the colonies that were at once ancient and new-claims that were seen as increasingly threatened by a government in London corrupted by self-interest and detached from the fundamental principles of British freedom.

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