The Townshend Revenue Act

June 29, 1767

WHEREAS it is expedient that a revenue should be raised, in your Majesty’s dominions in America, for making a more certain and adequate provision for defraying the charge of the administration of justice, and for the support of civil government, in such provinces where it shall be found necessary; and towards further defraying the expences of defending, protecting, and securing, the said dominions;… be it enacted… That from and after the twentieth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, there shall be raised, levied, collected, and paid, unto his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, for and upon the respective goods herein after mentioned, which shall be imported from Great Britain into any colony or plantation in America which now is, or hereafter may be, under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs, or successors, the several rates and duties following…[upon glass, red lead, white lead, painter's colors, tea, and paper.]

IV. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said rates and duties, charged by this act upon goods imported into any British American colony or plantation, shall be deemed, and are hereby declared to be, sterling money of Great Britain; and shall be collected, recovered, and paid, to the amount of the value which such nominal sums bear in Great Britain; and that such monies may be received and taken, according to the proportion and value of five shillings and six pence the ounce in silver…and that all the monies that shall arise by the said duties..shall be applied, in the first place, in such manner as is herein after mentioned, in making a more certain and adequate provision for the charge of the administration of justice, and the support of civil government, in such of the said colonies and plantations where it shall be found necessary; and that the residue of such duties shall be paid into the receipt of his Majesty’s exchequer, and shall be entered separate and apart from all other monies paid or payable to his Majesty, his heirs, or successors; and shall be there reserved, to be from time to time disposed of by parliament towards defraying the necessary expences of defending, protecting, and securing, the British colonies and plantations in America.

V. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That his Majesty and his successors shall be, and are hereby, impowered, from time to time, by any warrants or warrants under his or their royal sign manual or sign manuals, countersigned by the high treasurer, or any three or more of the commissioners of the treasury for the time being, to cause such monies to be applied, out of the produce of the duties granted by this act, as his Majesty, or his successors, shall think proper or necessary, for defraying the charges of the administration of justice, and the support of the civil government, within all or any of the said colonies or plantations…

X. And whereas by an act of parliament made in the fourteenth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for preventing frauds, and regulating abuses, in his Majesty’s customs, and several other acts now in force, it is lawful for any officer of his Majesty’s customs, authorized by writ of assistance under the seal of his Majesty’s court of exchequer, to take a constable, head-borough, or other public officer inhabiting near unto the place, and in the day-time to enter and go into any house, shop, cellar, warehouse, or room or other place, and, in case of resistance, to break open doors, chests, trunks, and other package there, to seize, and from thence to bring, any kind of goods or merchandize whatsoever prohibited or uncustomed, and to put and secure the sasme in his Majesty’s store-house next to the place where such seizure shall be made: and whereas by an act made in the seventh and eighth years of the reign of King William the Third, intituled, An act for preventing frauds, and regulating abuses, in the plantation trade, it is, amongst other things, enacted, that the officers for collecting and managing his Majesty’s revenue, and inspecting the plantation trade, in America, shall have the same powers and authorities to enter houses or warehouses, to search for and seize goods prohibited to be imported or exported into or out of any of the said plantations, or for which any duties are payable, or ought to have been paid; and that the like assistance shall be given to the said officers in the execution of their office; as, by the said recited act of the fourteenth year of King Charles the Second, is provided for the officers in England: but, no authority being expressly given by the said act, made in the seventh and eighth years of the reign of King William the Third, to any particular court to grant such writs of assistance for the officers of the customs in the said plantations, it is doubted whether such officers can legally enter houses and other places on land, to search for and seize goods, in the manner directed by the said recited acts: To obviate which doubts for the future, and in order to carry the intention of the said recited acts into effectual execution, be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twentieth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven, such writs of assistance, to authorize and impower the officers of his Majesty’s customs to enter and go into any house, warehouse, shop, cellar, or other place, in the British colonies or plantations in America, to search for and seize prohibited or uncustomed goods, in the manner directed by the said recited acts, shall and may be granted by the said superior or supreme court of justice having jurisdiction within such colony or plantation respectively…

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