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The Tax Stamp that led to Revolution

British Newspaper with a Tax Stamp

British Tax Stamp – Taxation without Representation

This British Newspaper bears a Tax Stamp used in the British Isles. The 1765 Stamp Act required documents to be printed on paper that was taxed. An elaborate emblem that included royal symbols was needed on to be printed or attached to documents and papers. The paper was stamped in Britain, sent to the colonies and sold by government-appointed officials. The emblem proved that tax had been paid. The American Colonists argued that only their local colonial assemblies could enact such a tax. The Stamp Act was one of the catalysts for the American Revolution.

The British Parliament passed the Stamp Act in March in 1765, which imposed direct taxes on the colonies for the first time. All official documents, newspapers, almanacs, pamphlets, and decks of playing cards were required to have the stamps.

The colonists objected because they had no representation in the Parliament. In 1765, the Sons of Liberty formed and used public demonstrations, boycott, and violence to make sure that the British tax laws were unenforceable. In Boston, the Sons of Liberty burned the records of the vice-admiralty court and looted the home of chief justice. Several colonial legislatures called for united action and nine colonies sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress in New York City on October 1765. A “Declaration of Rights and Grievances” stating that taxes passed without representation violated their rights as Englishmen.

Colonists went further and started boycotting imports of British merchandise. Massachusetts was declared in a state of rebellion in 1775, and the British garrison was ordered to disarm the rebels and arrest their leaders. These orders led to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which marked the start of the military campaign of the American Revolution.

Stamp Act of 1765

The Stamp Act of 1765 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain which imposed a direct tax on the British colonies in America. It required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp.

Printed materials included legal documents, magazines, cards, newspapers, and other types of paper used throughout the colonies. It also had to be paid in British currency, not in colonial paper money.

Many aspects of the resistance to the Stamp Act of 1765, provided the confidence and experience for future resistance and encouraged the activities of the Sons of Liberty and merchants in organizing opposition. The Stamp Act Congress of 1765 was a predecessor to the later Continental Congresses, which oversaw the establishment of American Independence.

Explore the Museum of the American Revolution

British Newspaper with a Tax Stamp

  • Name:                    British Newspaper with a Tax Stamp
  • Original Location:  American Colonies
  • Made:                    1766
  • Material:                Paper and Ink
  • Museum:               Museum of the American Revolution

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“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few,
and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”
– George Washington

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Photo Credit: 1) GM

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