Stamp Act

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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...
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