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Stamp Act Congress

Medha Godbole Apr 28, 2019
The Stamp Act Congress was the first government formed by Americans. It was formed in response to the Stamp Act about to be levied on the American territories of the UK...
Utter the word 'superpower', and the first name which instantly pops up is that of the United States of America. The all-powerful nation calling shots in every prominent international organization, is what the USA has been since the mid-20th century.
The situation was not that great for this super power a few centuries back, when Great Britain ruled the 13 American territories, while Spain and France claimed much of the rest of present-day USA.
Imperial rule in the medieval or modern era meant imposing taxes and wringing money from those being ruled. In 1765, Great Britain imposed a direct tax known as the Stamp Act. As a consequence, the American colonies held a meeting in New York, which was called the Stamp Act Congress.

Stamp Act 1765 Explained

The Stamp Act of 1765 was imposed by the British Parliament on the colonies of British America. The act entailed an imposition of direct taxes by the British Parliament. As per this act, any important document, like journals and newspapers, in the colonies had to be put on stamped paper produced only in London, and it had to carry an embossed revenue stamp.
The stamp tax had to be paid in British currency. Naturally, it was met with a lot of resistance from the colonies of British America.

Stamp Act Congress of 1765

The meetings in retaliation to the Stamp Act were secretly held, and there are hardly any records of the meetings. The only known source of the details of these meetings is a copy of meeting minutes in Rowan University, New Jersey.
All the same, there were 3 main issues which were dealt within these meetings.
These were -
  • A right of self-taxation
  • Reduction of admiralty courts
  • Trial by jury
Eventually, a Declaration of Rights and Grievances was adopted, though all the representatives could not be persuaded to sign the declaration.
Moreover, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and New Hampshire did not send their representatives to the meeting. Three petitions were drafted by the Stamp Act Congress, to be sent to the king and both the houses of the British Parliament.
The resolutions of this congress were as follows:
  • Only the colonial assemblies had a right to tax the colonies.
  • A trial by jury was a right, while the use of Admiralty Courts was abusive.
  • Without voting rights, the British Parliament could not represent the colonists.
  • The colonists possessed all the rights that Englishmen enjoyed.
Apart from this, the declaration dabbled in 14 other points expressing colonial protest. As was expected, it was not considered in the British Parliament on various grounds, and the petition was sent back in the same fleet which delivered the British stamps to New York! This declaration was primarily drafted by John Dickinson from Pennsylvania.
Although the Stamp Act Congress declaration was not enough to rattle the British throne then, it certainly triggered a camaraderie between the colonies, and strengthened them by giving them a common problem-solving forum.