Stamp Act 1765

The Stamp Act of 1765 was a tax created by the British Parliament which required American colonists to pay a duty on every piece of printed paper they used. This included legal documents, newspapers and even playing cards. It was defined as the ‘fifth and most notorious British policy of the colonial era’ according to historian Steve Thompson. The act itself was passed in order to raise £60 000 to supply British troops who remained in America, as British Parliament believed funding should be derived from colonies. Once again the catch cry of ‘no taxation without representation’ rang out through the colonies with known firebrands James Otis, Richard Bland and Patrick Henry adopting the phrase. The tax was the first tax which created widespread opposition as it affected all classes of American society as it taxed everything from playing cards to legal documents and led to the birth of violent resistance groups such as the Sons of Liberty.

The tax also established a reason for inter-continental cooperation which existed through the Stamp Act Congress. A total of twenty seven delegates from nine of the thirteen states attended the Congress. The Congress itself produced the document titles a ‘Declaration of Rights and Grievances’ which contained pledges of affection and loyalty to the King but also argued King George III had usurped colonial rights.

In addition other documents were produced by revolutionary firebrands in opposition of the Stamp Act. These included:

  • Patrick Henry’s ‘Virginia Resolves’ which suggested that all American colonials were entitled to all ‘liberties, privileges and immunities’ of freeborn Englishmen.
  • Daniel Dulay’s ‘Considerations on the Property of Imposing Taxes in the British Colonies’ which considered the Stamp Act as illegal.
  • Richard Bland’s ‘An Inquiry into the Rights of the British Colonies’ which affirmed the notion that American colonists were subjects of the crown and should enjoy the same rights as Englishmen but questioned the notion that the British government should have total authority over the American colonies.

Moreover, at least seven colonies sent anti-Stamp Act petitions to London. Hence, the Stamp Act of 1765 was one which created an enormous amount of dissent and anti-British sentiment in the American colonies.