The Stamp Act
The passing of the Stamp Act by Parliament in 1765 caused a rush of angry protests by the colonists in British America that perhaps "aroused and unified Americans as no previous political event ever had." It levied a tax on legal documents, almanacs, newspapers, and nearly every other form of paper used in the colonies. Adding to this hardship was the need for the tax to be paid in British sterling, not in colonial paper money. Although this duty had been in effect in England for over half a century and was already in effect in several colonies in the 1750?s, it called into question the authority of Parliament over the overseas colonies that had no representation therein.
When the news of the passage of this act reached the American shore, the colonists protested vehemently. Nine of the thirteen colonies sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress, which sought ?to consider of a general and united, dutiful, loyal and humble representation of their condition to His Majesty and the Parliament; and to implore relief.? The resulting resolution caused almost as much resistance in England as the original act had in the colonies. Through studying some of the documents coming out of this period, one can see the very different opinions held by the colonists, supporters of Parliament, and American sympathizers.
The Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress were completed on October 19, 1765. These resolutions are a strong, logical argument against the Stamp Act, which appears to be very cogent. A major issue in the writing of these was the degree of rebelliousness that should be conveyed in the text. Because of the disagreements about this, the wording of the first resolution is very vague. The Congress began by asserting
their allegiance to the crown and affirming their likeness to its other subjects, including the entitlement to certain inherent rights and liberties. It goes on to establish the need for representation in the government and the impossibility of representation for the colonists. It then goes on question the jurisdiction of Parliament in the passage of the Stamp Act in Resolution VII and petition the repeal of it in the conclusion:
VII. That the late Act of Parliament, entitled, An Act for granting and applying certain Stamp Duties, and other Duties, in the British colonies and the plantations in America, etc., by imposing taxes on the inhabitants of these colonies, and the said Act, and several other Acts, by extending the jurisdiction of the courts of Admiralty beyond its ancient limits, have a manifest tendency to subvert the rights and liberties of the colonists.
Lastly, That it is the indispensable duty of these colonies, to the best of sovereigns, to the mother country, and to themselves, to endeavour by a loyal and dutiful address to his Majesty, and humble applications to both Houses of Parliament, to procure the repeal of the Act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, of all clauses of any...