In 1764, after the Seven Years War, Britain was in debt for more than £129,586,789. In 1765, George Grenville drafted his Stamp Bill, which consisted of fifty-five resolutions for taxing the colonists to help pay the national debt of Britain. Grenville introduced his Bill on February 6, 1765, and Parliament passed the Bill on the 17th of the same month. King George III put the Stamp Act in motion after the House of Lords further approved the bill in March. This act, and many others, on behalf of Parliament to asseverate control over the colonies would prove detrimental in the years that soon followed (Independence Hall Association, 2011).
The Stamp Act was, according to Grenville (1765), “an act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties, in the British colonies and plantations in America, towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same…” (para. 1). In taxing the colonies by way of the Stamp Act, Britain attempted to assert their control and authority over the colonists by making them pay taxes simply for having the protection of Britain.
The Stamp Act covered many aspects of printed materials, and the paper had to have an embossed revenue stamp that came from London, England (Ivester, 2009). The Stamp Act itself contained strict penalties and fines for breaking the law, including death without last rites (Grenville, 1765). The price of the Stamp Act was exceptionally high by colonial standards of income, as the prices would still be high by today’s standards. For example, the tax on dice at ten shillings in 1765 would amount to $54 today. The Stamp Act also held some lofty fines for any violation of its law. A £20 fine in 1765 would be roughly $2,146.77 in American dollars today (South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 2009).
Commerce in the colonies, regulated by the use of taxes and duties, was expected, but this was the first time the colonists were to simply help Britain raise money. None of the colonial legislatures had approved this, and if resistance did not take place, the British could possibly institute further taxes without hesitation (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2011). By levying such an unfair and heavy tax on the colonists,...