Why did colonists rely on the boycott to protest British policies?
The Boston Massacre and Tea Party-In 1767, Parliament once again attempted to raise taxes to pay for the expense of maintaining governments in the American colonies. This newest round of taxes were known as the Townshend Duties, for Prime Minister Charles Townshend. (The Prime Minister is the leader of the British government.) These duties imposed taxes on the importation of several luxuries, including glass, paper, paint, lead, and, most famously, tea. As with the Stamp Act, colonists protested that these duties on imports were an unjust form of taxation. The colonists sent a Circular Letter (a letter of protest that circulated through the colonies before being sent to Britain). When the British government demanded that the colonists disown this letter, colonists in Massachusetts refused. In response, the Royal Governor of Massachusetts dismissed the Massachusetts legislature. Also, as with the Stamp Act, colonists again boycotted British goods. (Americans also referred to this boycott as non-importation.)
To enforce the duties on imports, Britain sent more soldiers and officials to North America. Roughly 1,700 troops were sent to Boston (a city with a population of approximately 20,000 at this time) in 1768. In early 1770, tension between Bostonians and soldiers erupted in violence, when an angry mob of residents began harassing soldiers, who responded by firing on the crowd, killing five. Colonists referred this event as the Boston Massacre, and complained that the British government was now not merely violating Americans' rights, but actually murdering those who dared to disagree with the government. A famous engraving of the event by Paul Revere depicted soldiers firing on innocent protesters at close range, and helped to inflame Americans' distrust of Great Britain. Later that year, Britain ended all of the Townshend Duties except the tax on the most profitable item on the list: tea. As a result, the colonists continued to boycott British tea.