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Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Stamp Act 1765

Okay so my first research project will be from the more General Timeline I am using, and that will be “The Stamp Act.” According to the timeline, this occurred in 1765:

Parliament passes The Stamp Act as a means to pay for British troops on the American frontier. Colonists violently protest the measure.

In the time line there is a link to more information about the Stamp Act:

The question was never the immediate amount of taxation that the British were asking of the colonists. The question was whether the British had the right to do it at all. We're talking about people [the American colonists] with enormous sensitivity to the dangers of power. If you conceded the right to Parliament to tax and if there was no check on it, no limit, it could go on indefinitely. You could be bled white. The power to tax was the power to destroy."
—Pauline Maier, Scholar

Contrary to popular impression, taxes in America existed throughout the colonial period prior to the American Revolution. Colonial governments relied on a variety of taxes to support themselves including poll, property and excise taxes. The great Boston patriot, Samuel Adams, was himself a tax collector, though not a very good one. His accounts were [sterling]8,000 in arrears at the time The Stamp Act was implemented.

What outraged colonists was not so much the tax as the fact that it was being imposed from England. Reaction to the Stamp Act in the colonies was swift and, on occasion, riotous.

In Virginia, Patrick Henry made a reputation for himself in a bold speech before the House of Burgesses. "Caesar had his Brutus, Charles I his Cromwell," he said. "May George III profit from their example."

In Massachusetts, rioters ransacked the home of the newly appointed stamp commissioner, Andrew Oliver. He resigned the position the next day.

Threatening or attacking the Crown-appointed office-holders became a popular tactic against the act throughout the colonies. Though no stamp commissioner was actually tarred and feathered, this Medieval brutality was a popular form of 18th century mob violence in Great Britain, particularly against tax collectors.

Tarring and feathering dated back to the days of the Crusades and King Richard the Lionhearted. It began to appear in New England seaports in the 1760s and was most often used by patriot mobs against loyalists. Tar was readily available in shipyards and feathers came from any handy pillow. Though the cruelty invariably stopped short of murder, the tar needed to be burning hot for application.

By November 1, 1765, the day the Stamp Act was to officially go into effect, there was not a single stamp commissioner left in the colonies to collect the tax.

This is just the start, I will do some more research on The Stamp Act and present it in a future post, but if anyone has anything to add or places to look before I do so, please feel free to leave me a comment.

Back to the Timeline

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Anonymous said...

Terah said...

Well said.