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AC3 Stamp Act Database Image

Date: Passed March 22, 1765

The Stamp Act was the British Government's attempt to recoup some of the money spent during the French and Indian War by taxing the American Colonists - who theoretically benefitted most from it.

Parliament chose a Stamp Act Tax because it was simple, easily implemented, and the Colonists couldn't smuggle their way out of paying it. All papers - from newspapers, to legal documents, to lawyer's licenses - would need to purchase a government stamp to be used.

Colonists, however, didn't think Britain had the right to tax them at all, since there were no colonial representatives in Parliament (hence the snappy Revolutionary slogan "No Taxation Without Representation"). They also resented the suggestion that they were responsible for Britain's war debts - since the colonial militia had a huge role in fighting - and winning the French and Indian War.

Huge public protests were organized - run by groups who called themselves the "Sons of Liberty". Merchants declared a boycott of British goods. Perhaps most importantly, the people assigned to collect the tax were threatened and intimidated into resigning. The Massachusetts Stamp Distributor was even paraded through Boston by the Sons of Liberty and forced to resign at the Liberty Tree.

No stamp taxes were ever collected and British repealed the Stamp Act in March 1766. But it wasn't an entire victory for the colonies. Parliament then passed something called the Declaratory Act - essentially stating that Britain had the absolute right to tax the Colonists and there wasn't anything the Colonists could do about it.

Nothing, that is, except start their own country.

I've always fancied doing that.

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