The Stamp Act

"An Emblem of the Effects of the STAMP."

Samuel Adams

If Taxes are laid upon us in any shape without our having a legal Representation where they are laid, are we not reduced from the Character of free Subjects to the miserable State of tributary Slaves?

The Stamp Act, enacted in march 1765, was a tax imposed by the British Parliament on American colonists, requiring that almost everything from newspapers to playing cards to degrees be produced on stamped paper produced in London and carry an embossed revenue stamp. Almost every conceivable product made of paper was taxed and had to be paid in valid British currency, not in colonial paper money.

This act was imposed for “defraying the expenses of defending, protecting and securing” the colonies during the Seven Years’ War, sometimes described as the “first World War” due to its global nature. The American colonists did not accept this justification, for more importantly, it amounted to taxation without representation.

In October 1765, a special congress consisting of twenty-eight representatives from nine colonies was convened in New York City. Their fifteen-day meeting produced the Stamp Act Congress Declaration of Rights, a document of reproachable protest against Great Britain, a precursor to the Declaration of Independence eleven years later. The protestation lead to the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, signaling the beginning of the end for England’s reign over the colonies. The special congress was a new experience for the colonies, for the first time they worked together as one united body in opposition to the British.

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