There were a number of causes that led the American colonies to declare their independence from England on July 4, 1776. One of the most significant was the colonists' objection to a series of taxes enacted under King George III. The colonists generally recognized the English government's right to levy taxes, but objected to being taxed without any representation in the British Parliament.

Sugar Act

The Sugar Act of 1764 was an amendment of an earlier law which taxed the import of molasses. The act actually lowered the amount paid by most colonists, but some – especially those involved in distilling – still protested the new tax.

Stamp Tax

The first tax to anger the colonists on a large scale was the Stamp Act of 1765, which demanded that legal documents carry an official government stamp. The anger at the perceived unfairness of the tax was not mitigated by the fact that English subjects in England had been paying a similar tax since 1694.

Townsend and Tea

The final straw for many colonists was the 1767 Townsend Acts, which taxed the sale of such items as paper, glass, lead and tea. To make matters worse, the English government eliminated all taxation on the East India Company, whose popular commodities included cotton, dye, salt and tea, giving the British merchant an unfair advantage over American counterparts and sparking the powder keg that would soon explode into the Boston Tea Party.