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Stamp Act Broadside

  • Broadside Concerning the Repeal of the Stamp Act, May 16, 1766
This broadside concerning the repeal of the Stamp Act was printed in Boston on May 16, 1766.
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« Return to Disagreement and Disillusion

Broadside Concerning the Repeal of the Stamp Act, May 16, 1766

On February 10, 1763, the Treaty of Paris concluded the Seven Years' War between France and Great Britain, the war known in North America as the French and Indian War. France ceded to Britain most of its land in North America east of the Mississippi River. The war left Britain with a large national debt. To raise money Parliament increased taxes on people in Britain and also for the first time placed taxes directly on items used by on the people residing in the colonies.

In 1764 George Grenville, chief minister of the king's government, announced his intention to have Parliament pass an act for the colonies that would require payment of a tax on certain paper goods. The act was called a stamp tax because when the tax was paid a small paper stamp was affixed to the paper. Several colonial legislatures, including the Virginia General Assembly, protested the proposed tax. The colonists declared that only their elected representatives in their own legislatures had the constitutional right to tax them. Because no colonists could vote for members of Parliament, the slogan "no taxation without representation" came to embody colonial attitudes toward the Stamp Act that Parliament passed in 1765. The tax affected a wide variety of paper items, including newspapers, deeds, wills, and other official records, as well as packs of playing cards and dice. The Stamp Act Congress, which met in New York City, protested against the Stamp Act on behalf of the colonies, but because the Virginia General Assembly was not in session when the call for the congress went out, no Virginia representatives attended it.

After the law has been enacted, Patrick Henry on May 29, 1765, introduced resolutions in the House of Burgesses condemning the Stamp Act and asserting that only the General Assembly had the right to tax Virginians. The next day in support of his resolutions, Henry delivered his “Caesar-Brutus” speech, which some members declared treasonous. Henry drafted seven resolutions, each more radical than the last, and four were adopted (the fifth was adopted, but rescinded on May 31). The texts of all seven, however, later appeared in newspapers throughout the colonies.

Colonial pressure on British merchants and on Parliament led to the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, but when it repealed the act, Parliament also responded to the colonial denials of Parliament's authority to pass the tax. The Declaratory Act of March 18, 1766, stated that Parliament had the right to legislate for the colonies in “all cases whatsoever.” The repeal of the Stamp Act temporarily overshadowed the importance of the Declaratory Act, and when news of the repeal arrived in the colonies there was much celebrating. This broadside was printed in Boston on May 16, 1766, the day the news of the repeal reached Boston from London.

For Educators

Questions

1. Why do you think there was such a violent reaction to the stamp tax?

2. What was the main issue that caused some colonists to oppose the stamp tax?

3. What do you think was the Crown's stand point on the tax?

Further Discussion

1. In March 1766 Richard Bland's letter An Inquiry into the Rights of the British Colonies was published in Williamsburg. Bland argued for a revision of British policy that would return it to what it was before the passage of the revenue acts. If you had lived in 1766 what would have been your plan to solve the problems between the American colonies and the British authorities? How would you maintain peace on both sides?

2. The Virginia Charter of 1606 stated that the Jamestown settlers and their children “shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises, and immunities . . . as if they had been abiding and born within this our Realm of England, or any other of our said Dominions.” Does the stamp tax uphold this part of the charter? Did the colonists receive the same treatment as the British citizens living in England? The Stamp Act was repealed and the Declaratory Act passed at the same time on March 18, 1766. Knowing this information, was the repeal of the Stamp Act actually a time for celebration? Did the repeal fix the real problem?

Links

Library of Congress Bibliographic Information-Stamp Act Broadside

Suggested Reading

Morgan, Edmund S. and Helen M. Morgan. The Stamp Act Crisis: Prologue to Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, for the Institute of Early American History and Culture (Williamsburg, Va.), 1953.

Glorious News.
BOSTON, Friday 11 o'Clock, 16th May 1766.
THIS Instant* arrived here the Brig Harrison, belonging
to John Hancock, Esq; Captain Shubael Coffin, in 6
Weeks and 2 Days from London, with important
News, as follows.
From the LONDON GAZETTE.
Westminster, March 18th, 1766.
THIS day his Majesty came to the House of Peers, and being in his royal robes seated on the throne with the usual solemnity, Sir Francis Molineux, Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, was sent with a Message from his Majesty to the House of Commons, commanding their attendance in the House of Peers. The Commons being come thither accordingly, his Majesty was pleased to give his royal assent to
 An ACT to REPEAL an Act made in the last Session of Parliament, intituled, an Act for granting and applying certain Stamp-Duties and other Duties in the British Colonies and Plantations in America, towards further defraying the expences of defending, protecting and securing the same, and for amending such parts of the several Acts of Parliament relating to the trade and revenues of the said Colonies and Plantations, as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned.
 Also ten public bills, and seventeen private ones.
 Yesterday there was a meeting of the principal Merchants concerned in the American trade, at the King's Arms tavern in Cornhill, to consider of an Address to his Majesty on the beneficial Repeal of the late Stamp-Act.
 Yesterday morning about eleven o'clock a great number of North American Merchants went in their coaches from the King's Arms tavern in Cornhill to the House of Peers, to pay their duty to his Majesty, and to express their satisfaction at his signing the Bill for Repealing the American Stamp-Act, there was upwards of fifty coaches in the procession.
 Last night the said gentlemen dispatched an express for Falmouth, with fifteen copies of the Act for repealing the Stamp-Act, to be forwarded immediately for New York.
 Orders are given for several merchantmen in the river to proceed to sea immediately on their respective voyages to North America, some of whom have been cleared out since the first of November last.
 Yesterday messengers were dispatched to Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, and all the great manufacturing towns in England, with an account of the final decision of an august assembly relating to the Stamp-Act.
 When the KING went to the House of Peers to give the Royal Assent, there was such a vast Concourse of People, huzzaing, clapping Hands, &c. that it was several Hours before His Majesty reached the House.
 Immediately on His Majesty's Signing the Royal Assent to the Repeal of the Stamp-Act the Merchants trading to America dispatched a Vessel which had been in waiting, to put into the first Port on the Continent with the Account.
 There were the greatest Rejoicings possible in the City of London, by all Ranks of People, on the TOTAL Repeal of the Stamp-Act,—the Ships in the River displayed all their Colours, Illuminations and Bonfires in many Part. In short, the Rejoicings were as great as was ever known on any Occasion.
 It is said the Acts of Trade relating to America would be taken under Consideration, and all Grievances removed. The Friends to America are very powerful, and disposed to assist us to the utmost of their Ability.
 Capt. Blake sailed the same Day with Capt. Coffin, and Capt. Shand a Fortnight before him, both bound to this Port.
 It is impossible to express the Joy the Town is now in, on receiving the above, great, glorious and important NEWS—The Bells in all the Churches were immediately set a Ringing, and we hear the Day for a general Rejoicing will be the beginning of next Week.
 PRINTED for the Benefit of the PUBLIC, by Drapers, Edes & Gill, Green & Russell, and Fleets.
The Customers to the BostonPapers may have the above gratis at therespective Office.