Thursday, January 23, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: January 23

On January 23, 1781, the British Parliament sent a bill to King George III establishing a system of government known as the Britannic Design for the North American colonies. The Design was a response to the outbreak of the North American Rebellion in 1775 among thirteen of the colonies, who attempted to break away from the British Empire and establish an independent republic.

The Britannic Design sought to address two issues that had arisen during the crisis that led to the Rebellion. Firstly, the issue of Parliamentary taxation of the colonies was modified. Parliament no longer claimed an absolute right to levy taxes on the colonies. Instead, the colonies were given the power to veto Parliamentary taxes. Had this provision of the Design been in effect in the 1760s, the colonies would have been able to veto the Stamp Act, the Townsend Duties, and the Tea Act as a matter of course, and the steadily mounting contest of wills between colonists and Parliament would never have taken place.

Secondly, the colonies were discouraged from taking any more concerted actions against Parliament by being divided into two rival confederations. This, combined with the creation of three additional administrative units from the more loyal colony of Quebec, ensured that the thirteen rebellious colonies would always be a minority in the newly-created Confederation of North America.

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