The Stamp Act

A tax on Britain's American colonies was introduced on 22 March 1765.

The act never went properly into effect, but it had greater consequences than many which did. Passed through Parliament against little opposition and signed into law by George III, the Stamp Act imposed on the British colonies in North America a tax on printed documents, including legal papers, contracts, bills of sale, licenses, wills, ships' papers, advertisements, newspapers and magazines. Books were not affected, but playing cards and dice were. The items had to carry revenue stamps, sent from Britain. The act was to come into effect from the beginning of November and the money would pay for troops stationed in the colonies to defend them against attack.

The British government, struggling with mountainous debts, considered this entirely reasonable, but the colonists did not. The colonies had their own democratic assemblies, but they had no Members of Parliament at Westminster and the old principle of 'no taxation without representation' was increasingly invoked.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.