January 2020

The stamp that inspired a revolution

Commonwealth

american war indepndence

The eight-year war that won 13 American colonies its freedom from British colonial powers started with the issue of a revenue stamp. 

The Parliament of Great Britain imposed a direct tax on American colonies to contribute towards the costs of defending the American Colonies from the French. The act required printed materials to be produced on stamped paper produced in London and bear an embossed stamp. This applied to wills, ship papers, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets and almanacs

Historically, stamp acts had been successful in generating revenue as a document would be null and void without the use of the required stamp. A stamp duty had first been introduced in England in 1694 and collected £100,000 for the government.

However, in the first link in the chain of events that caused the American Revolutionary War of 1775, colonists opposed with petitions and protests.

stamp act

While previous acts were seen as essential in regulating the economy, the Stamp Act was the first direct tax levied to raise money from colonialists. Furthermore, it was issued without consent from the colonial legislature. Thus the rallying cry of "no taxation without representation" was born.

So unpopular was the tax that it was abandoned on May 1st the following year, but relations with American Colonies had been irreparably soured by then as politically charged colonists began to conduct boycotts and demonstrations.

The proof of the Stamp Act of 1765 is evident in the United States Declaration of Independence, which represents the collective first step toward forming the United States of America, and outlines 27 grievances against the British government and King George. Grievance 17 in the document read "For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent."

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