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Stamp Act

Stamp Act

In 1765 the British Parliament passed the STAMP ACT, which imposed the first direct tax on the American colonies. The revenue measure was intended to help pay off the debt the British had incurred during the French and Indian War and to pay for the continuing defense of the colonies. To Parliament's great surprise, the Stamp Act ignited colonial opposition and outrage, leading to the first concerted effort by the colonists to resist Parliament and British authority.

The Stamp Act was designed to raise almost one-third of the revenue needed to support the military establishment permanently stationed in the colonies at the end of the French and Indian War. The act placed a tax on newspapers, almanacs, pamphlets and broadsides, legal documents of all kinds, insurance policies, ship's papers, licenses, and even playing cards and dice. All these documents and objects had to carry a tax stamp.

In October 1765 nine of the thirteen colonies sent delegates to New York to attend the Stamp Act Congress. The Congress issued a "Declaration of Rights and Grievances" declaring that British subjects in the colonies had the same "rights and liberties" as the king's subjects in Britain. The Congress, noting that the colonies were not represented in Parliament, concluded that no taxes could be constitutionally imposed on them except by their own legislatures. Colonial merchants also organized an effective economic boycott that led to the bankruptcy of some London merchants.

The Stamp Act was repealed in 1766. Nevertheless, Parliament then passed the Declaratory Act, which asserted that Parliament had full authority to make laws that were legally binding on the colonies.

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