Friday, April 28, 2006
Those who don't know history
"You know, I'm not a supporter of boycotts."
~ George W. Bush
Beginning with the unpopular Grenville reforms of the mid-1760s and continuing for a decade, the nonimportation agreement or boycott was the chief American means to gain the attention of faraway British policymakers.
Colonial critics of revenue-raising tax measures realized that they had little clout in Parliament. In order to receive a meaningful hearing in London, the Americans needed support from an influential lobbying force; English merchants and manufacturers fit the bill. Many of those businessmen had strong trade ties with the colonies as well as strong relationships with members of Parliament.
If trade were to decline sharply — as the case would be during a boycott — then English business interests would be harmed financially. It was hoped they would then prevail upon the government for a change in policy.
This form of economic retaliation was used in response to the Sugar Act (1764), but enjoyed its greatest success during the Stamp Act crisis (1765) and the upheaval following the Townsend Acts (1767-1770). A period of relative calm prevailed in the early 1770s, but came to an abrupt end with passage of the Coercive Acts (1774). The height of the nonimportation movement was reached with the First Continental Congress’s decision to create The Association, a body charged with overseeing the nonimportation, non-exportation and non-consumption of all British goods.