England was still looking for additional
dollars. The Sugar Act was raising duties but Parliament
felt more was needed. The average English taxpayer paid 26
shillings a year. The average colonist was paying less than
half that amount. Prime Minister Grenville felt the
Americans should be paying their fair share of the costs. So
Parliament passed the infamous Stamp Act in March of 1765.
The purpose of the Stamp Act was to
require the Americans to purchase special watermarked paper
for all newspapers or other legal documents. And if you
violated this law you would be arrested and taken to a
vice-admiralty court with out a jury of your peers. And you
guilty until you could prove otherwise.
Grenville convinced the Parliament this
tax would raise 60,000-100,00 pounds. Obviously Grenville
didn't really think the Americans would protest too much.
William Pitt, a great defender of the
colonies in England, argued the
point to Parliament. Parliament could not tax the
colonies since the colonies did not have any representation
in Parliament. There for it was taxation without
representation. Grenville, Pitt's brother-in-law, argued back there were lots of
people in England that did not have direct representation in
Parliament, so what. And that it was Parliament's job to
consider the well being of all subjects, period. (Click
here to read William Pitt's words to the House of
Commons on January 14, 1766.)
That is not how the colonies were running
their local governments. Grenville's position clashed
directly. And this time, the Act affected ALL the colonies
not just the New England colonies. Town meetings were held.
Petitions were signed and sent the English Parliament
protesting the Stamp Act. Parliament didn't even give the
petitions a hearing.
Patrick Henry convinced the Virginia House
of Burgesses in May 30, 1765, to pass a resolution known as
the Virginia Resolves. This act denied the English
Parliament any right to tax the colonies under the Stamp
Act. But word spread all through the colonies about what
Henry and the Virginia Burgesses did. Before the end of the
year other colonial legislatures passed similar resolutions.
Despite the unpopularity of the Stamp Act,
the colonists were not at a point of revolting against
English rule. This was another disagreement between a colony
and the respected mother country. But the this time the
Stamp Act affected everyone in the colonies and put another
black mark on the English page.
The Stamp Act was eventually repealed by
the English Parliament in 1766.