The Stamp Act
The Stamp Act was an important act introduced by the British
prime minister George Grenville and it was passed in March 1765 by the
British Parliament. It’s purpose was to raise money for the British army
stationed in the American colonies. The Stamp Act required tax stamps
for public documents such as, newspapers, legal documents, customs
documents, licenses, playing cards, deeds, and almanacs. Since Britain
was left with a large national debt from the Seven Years’ War, the
British government felt that since the colonies benefited that they
should contribute to the expenses. The American colonies acted
strongly against this matter.
During the Summer of 1765, there were many protests in the
colonies. These protests involved everyone from civic leaders to street
mobs. In many cities and towns the slogan became “no taxation without
representation.” The Sons of Liberty were a secret organization that
often organized these protests. Many acts of violence and a lot of
pressure was centered towards the Stamp Agents. By fall almost all
stamp agents resigned.
The Virginia Assembly declared that the Stamp Act was unjust
and illegal. The assembly passed resolutions against taxation’s by the
British Parliament. The Massachusetts House of Representatives invited
all of the colonies to send delegates to a general congress. The colonies
that accepted the invitation and sent delegates to the general congress
were New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode
Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Massachusetts.
In October of 1765 in New York City a Stamp Act Congress was
held. It represented nine colonies. The Stamp Act Congress declared
that stamp taxes could not be collected without the people’s consent and
that the colonists’ right to be taxed was only by their own elected
representatives. Merchants agreed not to import British goods until the
law was repealed. That lead to the British Parliament being bombarded
by petitions from English merchants not importing their goods. Many
English political leaders argued that the law was unenforceable.
Finally on March 4, 1766 the Stamp Act was repealed by the
British Parliament. The unity of the American colonists in their
opposition towards the Stamp Act contributed to the American
nationalists. The conflict between the British government and the
American colonists over the Stamp Act is considered one of the causes
of the American Revolutionary War.