The Stamp Act and the Affects on America

The Stamp Act and the Affects on America

The Stamp Act in 1765 caused great debate between the American colonists and England. This Act was very controversial, and an agreement between them never did happen, until the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The colonists’ debate against the Stamp Act and England’s right to tax the colonies led to the short-term success of this Stamp Act getting repealed, and the long-term success of America becoming an independent nation and thereby becoming able to tax themselves. For these successes to happen there was much debate and diplomacy between England and the colonies in America. For England, their debate with America failed. They only had some diplomacy with America, for it was mostly America going to England to try and solve the conflict between them. England just believed that America was their colony and they nourished them from the beginning. Only one side can win a debate, and America undoubtedly won this argument. Even though the colonists had to resort to violence to win, they still won. England, in the end, lost troops, money, resources, and a big chunk of their empire (being America). The colonies gained their independence from England, and the right to tax themselves. The colonies, from the beginning, opposed direct taxation from England. That was the root cause of almost all of the major problems between them and England. The colonists repeatedly tried to diplomatically solve this big problem, but almost always failed, and eventually resorted to violence and breaking from England, in the American Revolution. Also, a small island ruling a large continent would never have worked out in the long run anyway. George Grenville promoting the Stamp Act, causing much debate with “No taxation without representation”, and diplomacy had both successes and failures on both sides.

To begin, George Grenville proposed and promoted the Stamp and also the Sugar Act. Grenville was born in London, England. When he proposed these taxes against America, he was the Prime Minister. He was an “extremely able and competent administrator”. But he appeared to be self-willed, and politically was limited. This is because “He was shallow, humorless, and verbose”. He also incurred William Pitt’s wrath for serving under the Earl of Bute, the Prime Minister at the time, and by no means did he have the King’s wholehearted support. Grenville further alienated King George III by demanding that the King should have nothing to do with the Earl of Bute. In 1741, he entered Parliament as a member for Buckingham. He gained a reputation in the House of Commons as an expert on procedural matters. In 1761, twenty years after bring elected into Parliament; George Grenville was appointed the leader of the House of Commons. Then in 1763, the Earl of Bute resigned from his position as Prime Minister, and Grenville was offered this position by Bute. He then accepted. Grenville served as Prime Minister from April 16, 1763 to July 10, 1765. He urged an end to the Seven Years’ War. But the government was in favor of continuing the conflict. Also, George Grenville was always in favor of taxes to pay off the national debt. He believed that the common people needed to pay off this debt, since it came from them being defended in a war. After the Treaty of Paris, the Earl of Bute introduced the Cider Tax to pay off national debt. Grenville was in favor of this tax, which made him the ridicule of the House of Commons. His first real problem to deal with as Prime Minister was when John Wilkes published number 45 of the North Briton, containing a vicious attack on the King’s speech on the Treaty of Paris. Grenville’s government issued a general warrant for the arrest of “the Authors, printers, and publishers of a seditious and treasonable paper, entitled the North Briton, Number XLV”. This raised three constitutional issues.

The first issue was whether general warrants were legal. They went against the Glorious Revolution, infringed the Bill of Rights, and were against Habeas Corpus. It also raised the issue of whether members of Parliament could be arrested for freedom of speech, and whether the Freedom of the Press was endangered. Forty nine people involved with the publishing and writing of the paper were arrested. Grenville also faced the problem of national debt at the end of the Seven Years’ War. England borrowed money at high rates of interest from the Dutch, Bankers, the Bank of England, private companies, and individuals, to finance the war. Grenville believed he had to try to pay off this huge debt. So, he did many things to save money, and to make more money. He left the land tax at what it was during the war. Usually, in times of peace in England, the land tax is lowered, but Grenville kept it the same. He also cut expenditure in the army and navy. But, what I will be focusing on is when Grenville introduced new forms of taxation in America to pay off this debt. In 1765, the Sugar Act was passed to tax the colonists, so they help to pay off the national debt in England. The Sugar act did not raise as much money as expected, so they passed the Stamp act in March 1765 to get more money out of the colonists. Both taxes to the colonists were passed easily in Parliament. But in the colonies, the colonists did not take the Sugar Act and Stamp Act too well. “No taxation without Representation” became the colonists’ battle cry against England.

But, before this happened, the Stamp Act was proposed, in 1764. England then consulted the Colonial assemblies about it. All of the assemblies were against it, but no one proposed a better solution to pay off the debt. So, in 1765, the Stamp Act became the law. Parliament undoubtedly expected some protest from the colonies, but was not prepared for the amount of protest that actually happened in the colonies, especially in Boston. The Stamp Act Congress met in New York in 1765. They petitioned the King and both houses of Parliament. They also framed a declaration of Rights, which established more unity within the colonies. The opposition to these taxes was so determined and widespread, that the law could only be enforced with guns. The Sons of Liberty, people against the tax, organized in every colony. Riots occurred, and mass meetings were held to denounce the law. The hotbed for these “Patriots” was Boston. In Boston, boxes of stamps were seized and destroyed, and the distributers of the stamps were burned in Effigy. In Connecticut, a stamp distributer was hung in effigy. In Massachusetts, Chief Justice Hutchinson’s house was sacked, and its valuable library was destroyed. Merchants throughout the colonies also banded together and agreed not to import any goods from England until the tax was repealed. Some newspapers even came out with skull and crossbones where the stamps were supposed to go. Even though America protested so much, England wanted to get money to pay off their national debt, so they did not repeal the Act right away. Also, if England indeed had the right to tax the colonists, then the Stamp act would probably have been the best option to get money from the colonists. But, this is exactly want the colonists denied- “No taxation without representation”, their rallying cry. After all of that protest, the Stamp Act was finally repealed in February of 1766. This was a small victory for America. But, there was a lot more to come.

The diplomacy between England and the colonies had both successes and failures on both sides. America used diplomacy to try and solve their problem with England all the way up until the first shots at Lexington and Concord. American representatives went over to England and sent them petitions to try and stop the arguments and fighting between them. But England would not hear it, and dismissed most of the colonists and their letters. Charles Townshend, a Member of Parliament said that Americans were “children planted by our care, nourished up by our Indulgence until they are grown to a degree of strength and opulence, and protected by our arms”. This is why England believed that they had the right to tax the colonists, since they protect and rule the colonies. America really failed in their diplomacy attempts, and had to resort to revolution to sort out the issues with England ruling and directly taxing them. England didn’t really have much diplomacy on their part, but ultimately they failed. So, both sides ultimately failed in their diplomacy attempts, resulting in a revolution by the American colonists.

In conclusion, there was much debate between England and America at this time. America tried to diplomatically solve their problem with England, but also resorted to violence, when their diplomacy wasn’t working out. Almost all of this debate was caused by the Stamp Act, and other Acts meant to tax and punish the colonies for opposing the taxes. England believed that it had every right to tax the colonists. It also could never have imagined that their own colony could beat them in a war. So, they just kept taxing the colonists, because England thought that they really could not do much about it. But, the colonist did do something, and eventually broke away from England and formed their own country, where they had the right to tax themselves. That is the debate and diplomacy between England and their colonies in America.

Annotated Bibliography

1) Elson, Henry. “Britain Taxes Its Colonies.” The Open Door Web Site.http://www.saburchill.com/history/chapters/empires/0021.html (accessed December 5, 2010).

This site provided me with background information and causes of the Stamp Act. It also talked about the Sugar Act. It also provided links to other parts of the same site, which provided more information for me to research my topic. This was a great source to use after I gathered background information, and now needed some more specific information on my topic.

2) Lemay, Leo. “John Mercer and the Stamp Act in Virginia, 1764-1765.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 91, no. 1 (January 1983): 3-38. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4248608(accessed December 13, 2010).

This source was very detailed and reliable. This is because it is from a scholarary journal, and was put online by a very reliable site, JSTOR. The information in this article also was all about my topic, so it gave me a lot of information on my topic. This was overall a great source to use in my research paper.

3) Angelis, Angelo. “The Stamp Act Protests.” The City University of New York.http://www.ashp.cuny.edu/investigatinghistory/m2.html (accessed December 19, 2010).

This site was good because it had quality information that pertained to my topic. Also, it had links to many primary and secondary sources to help me with my research. This site is an educational (.edu) site, and because of this, I knew this information was correct.

4) “Stamp Act of 1765.” Stamp Act History Project. http://www.stamp-act-history.com/stamp-act/stamp-act-of-1765/ (accessed December 19, 2010).

This site was good for providing background information about the Stamp Act. Also, this site provided some causes for the Stamp Act, helping me in my research and background information.

5) Leigh, Kathy. "The Stamp Act and Other Acts." History of the USA. Available from http://www.usahistory.info/American-Revolution/Stamp-Act.html. Internet; accessed 5 January 2011.

This source was good as it provided detailed information about my subject. It provided good information about Grenville and him passing the Stamp Act. It also talked about the colonists’ reaction to the Act.

6) "The Stamp Act- 1765." ThinkQuest. Available from http://library.thinkquest.org/TQ0312848/stact.htm. Internet; accessed 20 January 2011.
This source was good because it showed the colonists’ reaction to the Stamp Act, and what violent acts they did against England and the tax.
7) Bloy, Marjie. "George Grenville (1712-1770)." The Victorian Web. Available from http://victorianweb.org/history/pms/grenville.html. Internet; accessed 6 January 2011.
This source talked about George Grenville’s life. Also, it talked about him proposing the Sugar and Stamp Act. So, it was a good source for information on Grenville’s life.
8) Pavao, Paul. "The Stamp Act of 1765." Revolutionary War. Available from http://www.revolutionary-war.net/stamp-act.html. Internet; accessed 5 January 2011.

This source was good because was an overview of the passing of the Stamp Act, the reaction to the Act, and then when the Stamp Act was repealed.