The Stamp Act

The Stamp Act, passed on March 22, 1765, ordered that all legal documents, contracts, permits, as well as playing cards that American colonists use should carry a tax stamp. Many believe that this is the first attempt of the Parliament to assert its authority over the colonies.

The Seven Years War left Britain with a large amount of national debt. Thus, Britain devised ways to accumulate money for the payment of these debts. One of these is the money earned from the Stamp Act. Furthermore, the money also helped sustain the presence of the military in American frontier. Approximately 10,000 troops were positioned near the Appalachian Mountains to defend and protect the frontier.

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Despite the relatively small actual cost of the Stamp Act, the colonists resisted this law and never allowed its proper enforcement. They reasoned that this tax was not enacted to be used in the regulation of commerce and maintenance of the trading system. Rather, this was used to elicit money for the Parliament. Moreover, the colonists regarded this new law as a first step toward more serious taxation problems in the future.

Only a few of colonists believed that they should abide this act and buy stamps. Colonists from the Virginia House of Burgesses waited for the Patrick Henry’s Stamp Act Resolves to be adopted. According to these resolves, the colonists should have the same rights as the English. These also state that colonists should be taxed only by their representatives. However, the stamps were ignored by the majority. The colonists refused to buy them and expressed their disagreement over this act. In some instances, public violence even occurred. The colonists expressed their resistance in the streets and, to some extent, even harassed officials. The protests spread out throughout the colonies, eventually forming an underground organization of patriots known as the Sons of Liberty. The act was later on repealed, but this already fanned the flames of the growing dissent of the Americans and served as a precursor to the American Revolution.



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