The Stamp Act was an important act introduced by British Prime Minister George Grenville and passed in March 1765 by the British Parliament. Its purpose was to raise money for the British army stationed in the American colonies. The Stamp Act required tax stamps for public documents such as newspapers, legal documents, customs documents, licenses, playing cards, deeds, and almanacs. Britain was left with a large national debt from the Seven Years’ War, and the British government felt that since the colonies benefited, they should contribute to the expenses.
The American colonies acted strongly against this matter. During the summer of 1765, there were many protests in the colonies. These protests involved everyone from civic leaders to street mobs. In many cities and towns, the slogan became no taxation without representation.” The Sons of Liberty were a secret organization that often organized these protests.
Many acts of violence and a lot of pressure were centered towards the Stamp Agents. By fall, almost all Stamp Agents had resigned. The Virginia Assembly declared that the Stamp Act was unjust and illegal. The assembly passed resolutions against taxation by the British Parliament. The Massachusetts House of Representatives invited all colonies to send delegates to a general congress.
The colonies that accepted the invitation and sent delegates to the General Congress were New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Massachusetts. In October of 1765, a Stamp Act Congress was held in New York City. It represented nine colonies. The Stamp Act Congress declared that stamp taxes could not be collected without the people’s consent and that the colonists’ right to be taxed was only by their own elected representatives. Merchants agreed not to import British goods until the law was repealed. That led to the British Parliament being bombarded by petitions from English merchants not importing their goods.
Many English political leaders argued that the law was unenforceable. Finally, on March 4, 1766, the Stamp Act was repealed by the British Parliament. The unity of the American colonists in their opposition towards the Stamp Act contributed to American nationalism. The conflict between the British government and the American colonists over the Stamp Act is considered one of the causes of the American Revolutionary War.