- Stamp Act
Amer. Hist.an act of the British Parliament for raising revenue in the American Colonies by requiring the use of stamps and stamped paper for official documents, commercial writings, and various articles: it was to go into effect on November 1, 1765, but met with intense opposition and was repealed in March, 1766.
* * *(1765) British parliamentary measure to tax the American colonies.To pay for costs resulting from the French and Indian War, the British sought to raise revenue through a stamp tax on printed matter. A common revenue device in England, the tax was vigorously opposed by the colonists, whose representatives had not been consulted. Colonists refused to use the stamps, and mobs intimidated stamp agents. The Stamp Act Congress, with representatives from nine colonies, met to petition Parliament to repeal the act. Faced with additional protests from British merchants whose exports had been reduced by colonial boycotts, Parliament repealed the act (1766), then passed the Declaratory Act."An Emblem of the Effects of the STAMP," a warning against the Stamp Act published in ...Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
* * *▪ Great Britain (1765), in U.S. colonial history, first British parliamentary attempt to raise revenue through direct taxation of all colonial commercial and legal papers, newspapers, pamphlets, cards, almanacs, and dice. The devastating effect of Pontiac's War (1763–64) on colonial frontier settlements added to the enormous new defense burdens resulting from Great Britain's victory (1763) in the French and Indian War. The British chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir George Grenville (Grenville, George), hoped to meet at least half of these costs by the combined revenues of the Sugar Act (1764) and the Stamp Act, a common revenue device in England. Completely unexpected was the avalanche of protest from the colonists, who effectively nullified the Stamp Act by outright refusal to use the stamps as well as by riots, stamp burning, and intimidation of colonial stamp distributors. Colonists passionately upheld their rights as Englishmen to be taxed only by their own consent through their own representative assemblies, as had been the practice for a century and a half. In addition to nonimportation agreements among colonial merchants, the Stamp Act Congress was convened in New York (October 1765) by moderate representatives of nine colonies to frame resolutions of “rights and grievances” and to petition the king and Parliament for repeal of the objectionable measures. Bowing chiefly to pressure (in the form of a flood of petitions to repeal) from British merchants and manufacturers whose colonial exports had been curtailed, Parliament, largely against the wishes of the House of Lords, repealed the act in early 1766. Simultaneously, however, Parliament issued the Declaratory Act, which reasserted its right of direct taxation anywhere within the empire, “in all cases whatsoever.” The protest throughout the colonies against the Stamp Act contributed much to the spirit and organization of unity that was a necessary prelude to the struggle for independence a decade later.
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