What key events sharpened the divisions between Britain and the colonists in the late 1760s and early 1770s?
The Stamp Act Crisis of 1765 gave rise to the famous revolutionary slogan “No taxation without representation.” It is clear from the documents included in this exercise how seriously the British colonists of North America believed in that principle. After months of angry protests and successfully organized boycotts in the American colonies, the British Parliament repealed the Stamp Act law. But instead of calming the colonists down, they became more empowered, leading eventually to their drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
Document 1 is a digitized image of a popular protest stamp from the 1760s. The modern student can think of this image as similar to a political cartoon. As we learned in the last chapter, the power of the printed word (or image) cannot be underestimated. To colonists angered by Parliament’s actions and the passing of the Stamp Act, this image needed no explanation.
Document 2 is known as the Declaration of Rights and Grievances. This declaration represents the collective thinking of the Stamp Act Congress, which met from October 7 to October 25, 1765. The Stamp Act Congress is considered to be the first time that elected representatives from several of the British American colonies included elected representatives from several of the British American colonies and came together in organized and unified protest against the British imperial system.
This document is the result of hours of discussion and debate. An examination of the document provides a clear sense of what was at stake. The British citizens, who happened to live in the colonies, did not believe they were being treated as “citizens.” The way in which the Stamp Act Congress worded and ordered their complaints and intentions provides compelling evidence that they believed they were being treated more as servants of a tyrant.
1. Read chapter 5, especially The Road to Revolution Complete pp. 178-182; Seagull pp. 189-193.
2. Examine Document 1, the Skull and Crossbones stamp image from the year 1765, and read Document 2, the Declaration of Rights and Grievances.
3. Answer the questions that follow these documents.