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Coming of the American Revolution: Document Viewer
Massachusetts Historical Society
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John Rowe diary 5, 4 March 1768, pages 717-718

John Rowe diary 5, 4 March 1768, pages 717-718

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Merchants vote: Block English trade!
The Townshend Acts take effect in the colonies on 20 November 1767. Over the next few months, the boycotts proposed to encourage frugality among cash-poor colonist are gradually absorbed into a larger protest over the duties levied by these new Acts of Parliament. In March 1768, a small committee of Boston merchants gathers to formalize their grievances and propose a solution: they will stop importing and selling British goods. The committee circulates its resolutions to merchants in neighboring towns to enlist their support but the results are not encouraging. In April, New Yorkers draft their own agreement, but Philadelphia merchants refuse to comply. Colonists are left to wonder whether Boston's ambitious non-importation proposal will ever be implemented.

Questions to Consider

1. Why does this committee of merchants propose a non-importation agreement? List at least two of the reasons why they feel this agreement in necessary.

2. In your own words, identify the main points of each resolution passed by the committee.

3. Why is it important that merchants in all major ports agree to non-importation?

4. How do Boston merchants plan to gather support for non-importation? List at least three of their proposed methods.

5. Identify all the trade goods in the first resolution. Why are these items exempted from the trade boycott?

Further Exploration

6. Imagine the merchants in your town are calling for a boycott of goods made in other countries. Make a list of the goods that you would be forced to give up. Which of these items do you consider necessities? Which are luxury goods?

7. In 1774, the Continental Congress proposes another non-importation plan. Review their proposal [Click here to review the plan proposed by the First Continental Congress] and compare it to the pact created by Boston merchants in 1768. How are the plans similar? How are they different?