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Great Britain's primary concern during this period of salutary neglect was its traditional enemy, France. Between 1689 and 1763, the two nations fought four long wars. The first three of these took place largely in Europe, but they affected North America as well. The Puritans in Massachusetts had long been suspicious of their French Catholic neighbors to the north, and the presence of French settlements in the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys also troubled American colonial authorities. Other causes for concern were the strong alliances the French had made with several powerful Indian tribes-among them the Hurons, with whom they traded furs. Indeed, when the War of the Grand Alliance broke out in Europe in 1689, New France began mobilizing its forces; and a year later, the fighting spread to North America.
In the meantime, with so many British ships patrolling the coast of America in support of the troops, it finally became possible for royal customs inspectors to enforce the Navigation Acts-and they did so vigorously, much to the colonists' chagrin. Customs agents on land made particularly effective use of writs of assistance, general warrants that allowed them to enter and search any premises suspected of containing smuggled goods. Because these writs were valid for the entire term of a monarch's reign, Boston merchants hired James Otis in 1760 following the death of George II to challenge the legality of the writs before George III renewed them. Otis lost his case, and the searches continued, but so did the smuggling.
Pitt had hoped that enforcement of the Navigation Acts would produce additional tax revenue that would, in turn, help reduce the government's huge war debt. To the authorities in London, it seemed rather obvious that the American colonies should pay a fair share of the cost of their own defense. That's why, when enforcement of the Navigation Acts failed as a revenue-generating policy, Pitt's successor, George Grenville, proposed another means of achieving the same end