Stamp Act of 1765

The Law: British law imposing taxes on American printed publications and documents by requiring them to bear official stamps
Date: Went into effect on November 1, 1765
Significance: The Stamp Act was effectively resisted and had little direct effect on American business. However, attempts to enforce it and the fury surrounding its adoption disrupted commerce. It provoked a series of nonimportation agreements in the colonies, temporarily halting much American trade with Great Britain.
The Stamp Act was passed by the British House of Commons on February 7, 1765, as part of British prime minister George Grenville’s attempt to restore government solvency after the massive expenditures of the Seven Years’ War. Lobbying against the act by colonial agents, including Benjamin Franklin, proved ineffective. There were ample precedents for stamp taxes in Britain itself, and the rates Americans would pay would be lower than those of Britons. In the American colonies themselves, the act was resisted on the grounds that the British parliament, in which colonists were not represented, had no right to tax the colonies. Resistance took the form of resolutions by colonial legislatures and the Stamp Act Congress, which met in New York City. The act was also resisted more violently by the Sons of Liberty, an underground group that attacked those designated to distribute stamps and other British government officials. Nonimportation agreements, organized boycotts of British goods, also helped persuade British merchants to lobby for repeal of the act. Organized resistance between colonies during the Stamp Act crisis helped set precedents for the American Revolution.
Grenville’s government fell in July, 1764, before the Stamp Act went into effect. The new government led by the Marquis of Rockingham, a sympathizer with the colonies, repealed the act on March 18, 1766, while reserving the right to tax the colonies.

See also: Boston Tea Party; consumer boycotts; Navigation Acts; Parliamentary Charter of 1763; Revolutionary War; taxation; Tea Act of 1773; Townshend Act.

Consumer Boycotts: Reasons for Boycotts

Townshend Act

Tea Act of 1773

Parliamentary Charter of 1763

Colonial economic systems

Boston Tea Party

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