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Taxation Without Representation: The Beginning Of The End

1382 words - 6 pages

“Awake! Save your liberty!” exclaimed B.W. (Copeland 196). While some people were horrified with the Stamp Act, others were completely accepting of this new act. Janis Herbert stated that after the French and Indian War, England had many debts, which obviously needed to be paid (3). England’s Parliament decided the American colonists needed to pay their debts for them. England went about this matter by raising taxes and requiring a stamp for 50 different documents (Gale Encyclopedia ¶ 2). Since America was not yet a country, and had no representation, they were stuck with whatever law Parliament passed. Why weren’t the thirteen colonies willing to abide by England’s laws? Even though England was trying to pay off their debts from the French & Indian War, they went about it the wrong way, because they expected the American colonists to pay by increased tax dollars. This is an example of taxation without representation, because the American colonists didn't have representatives, or the opportunity to vote.
To pay off their debt, England scheduled the initiation of the Stamp Act, which placed a tax on 50 different documents, on November 1, 1765 (Gale ¶ 2; Brindell 13). This act was to put a tax “upon every paper commonly called a pamphlet and upon every newspaper” (Copeland 193). Because the Stamp Act was an internal tax, which meant this tax law was only enforced in America, this made the colonists even angrier (Burgan 23).
The passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 and the colonial reaction to that act marked the turning point in Parliament's approach to taxation and in the colonists' relationship to their mother country. Prior to the Stamp Act the colonial assemblies levied taxes for the support of the colonial governments. The British government raised revenue only indirectly, from duties on imports and exports paid by merchants to the customs collector and then passed along to the ultimate consumer in the prices of the goods subjected to these duties. The Stamp Act was Parliament's first attempt to levy a direct tax on the colonists. Parliament, in debating the passage of the Stamp Act, focused on the need to raise revenue to help pay for the recent war against France and did not appreciate the importance that the colonists placed on this difference between direct and indirect taxes. The colonists saw the tax as extremely significant--not so much for the revenue it would produce but for the precedent it would establish--as Parliament's first exercise of the power of taxation in the colonies. (General Reference Gold ¶ 2)

Because these taxes were to be paid to England, American money was useless to them. England required this tax to be paid in gold or silver only (Gale ¶ 2). To solve their debt problem, England taxed the American colonists, unfairly – or so they thought.
To control the American colonies, England enforced more than just the Stamp Act. The Navigation Act, which was passed in 1660, prohibited other countries, except...

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