Salutary Neglect was a term that referred to an unofficial policy practiced by English authorities wherein they would turn a blind eye to various violations in the American colonies—especially relating to trade.
Why would they enact legislation that created certain trade restrictions or tariffs and then not enforce it?
Because they knew that people do more business when there aren’t a whole bunch of taxes attached and hoops to jump through. And they were right. The colonies were flourishing under this policy of salutary neglect.
After the Seven Years War ended, however, King George decided it was time the American colonies began to do their part to refill Great Britain’s coffers that were virtually emptied during the war.
Parliament did try to be clever about it. They passed the Sugar Act in 1764 which lowered the tax on molasses from six pence per gallon to only three, but then they put tariffs on several other items and they decided they would start actually enforcing the law rather than looking the other way while the American colonies enjoyed free and open trade.
The fact that England was suddenly deciding to tighten the screws on the American colonists understandably led to frustration. Americans didn’t feel as though they had adequate representation in Parliament, so they resented having to pay taxes for a government that they didn’t believe was looking out for their best interests—especially when there had been so little enforcement up to that point.