Grenville Acts

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Grenville Acts

GRENVILLE ACTS. Under the leadership of George Grenville, who headed the ministry that came to power in March 1763, the imperial government enacted a number of measures intended to increase the amount of control it exercised over the North American colonies. The decisions were a response both to colonial evasion of the Navigation Acts, scandalously revealed during the final French and Indian War (1759, 1760), and to the needs of the newly expanded empire. From the imperial point of view, reform was urgently required and the measures were reasonable. Because they altered the approach to imperial administration that Britain has followed for half a century (a policy known as "salutary neglect"), many colonists came to believe, erroneously, that the decisions represented a carefully conceived program to deprive Americans of their rights. The measures included reform of the customs service (4 October 1763), the Proclamation of 1763 (7 October 1763), the Revenue Act of 1764 (the so-called Sugar Act, 5 April 1764), the Currency Act of 1764 (19 April 1764), and the Stamp Act (22 March 1765), This last act was the one the colonists found most threatening to their liberties. Not strictly part of the Grenville program but generally blamed on him by the colonists was the Quartering Act (15 May 1765), requested by Major General Thomas Gage, commander in chief in North America, to better house his troops in the colonies.

SEE ALSO Currency Act; Grenville, George; Proclamation of 1763; Quartering Acts; Salutary Neglect; Stamp Act; Sugar Act.


Thomas, Peter D. G. British Politics and the Stamp Act Crisis: The First Phase of the American Revolution, 1763–1767. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1975.

                             revised by Harold E. Selesky