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One Penny Stamp 1765

The English Ministry was already preparing a scheme for the raising of revenue in America: The question of the right of taxation suddenly obtruded itself. The Americans claimed the right as Englishmen to tax themselves. The English ministers replied that Parliament, and not the Colonial Assemblies, was the proper body to vote taxes in all parts of the British Empire. The Americans replied that they were not represented in Parliament. Parliament replied that many of the towns, shires, and boroughs in England were not represented. If they were not represented, they ought to be, said the Americans; --and thus the case was made up.

Two years after the French and Indian War, the British Parliament attempted to defray the expense of the war in North America by passing a taxation measure on the Colonies. This act, known as the Stamp Act, required that the Colonists pay a tax on all legal documents, periodicals, almanacs, pamphlets, newspapers, and playing cards. These documents must have a stamp to prove that the tax was paid. The money raised would pay for the costs of the war and provide the necessary funds to supply the British troops stationed on the American frontier. This policy was to prevent the France from recovering Canada and to defend the Colonies against the Indians. Most Englishmen, especially the London merchants, thought it only right that the colonies should help pay for the support of these troops.

This tax aroused great opposition among the Colonists for three reasons: 
1. The Colonists thought that only the Colonial legislatures could tax them to raise revenue. 
2. They opposed the presence of British troops. 
3. They had to pay the tax in silver only.

This would carry so much of their sound money to England that it would seriously interfere with business. Benjamin Franklin, in England at the time, testified that the Colonists would protest against this act and not pay it.

However, a Stamp Act Congress, representing nine Colonies, met in New York City on Oct. 7, 1765, and declared that only the Colonial assemblies should tax the Colonists. The Congress also petitioned the King and Parliament for repeal of the objectionable measures.

When the stamped papers began to arrive, mobs seized them or forced the ships' captains to take them back to England. They also forced stamp commissioners to resign, so that there was nobody available to distribute them.

External Websites

Coming of the American Revolution
This website by the Massachusetts Historical Society provides information about the events that led to the American Revolution.

The Stamp Act Crisis
This article by Archibald Hinschelwood describes how the Stamp Act that defined the issue of no taxation without representation.  This article is on the Digital History website.

The Stamp Act, March 22, 1765
You can read the actual act passed by the British Parliament on the Avalon Project website.