History Timeline 1760s

Above: Engraving of Faneuil Hall in Boston. Courtesy Library of Congress. Right: Political cartoon, "A New Way to Pay the National-Debt" of King George III, Queen Charlotte, William Pitt and others, 1786, James Gillroy. Courtesy Library of Congress.

King George III

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  • 1766 Detail

    March 18, 1766 - Stamp Act is repealed.

    Stamp Act

    By the time of the end of the Stamp Act Congress and the issue of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances on October 19, 1765, the British Government knew that the American colonists were serious in their dislike for the Stamp Act. However, they were not yet ready to capitulate to their demands. They needed the revenue and wanted to show to fractious colonists who was in charge. The Stamp Act went into effect in November, causing many printers in the colonies to cease publication. However, that only lasted for a few editions; they, the printers against the Stamp Act, began to print again, defying the order to print without the stamp.

    The Sons of Liberty continued pressuring for repeal, meeting on November 6, 1865 in New York City to coordinate efforts for factions in various parts of the colonies. By December, the effort included New York and Connecticut; by March, it extended from New Hampshire to North Carolina, with the issue under discussion in South Carolina and Georgia as well. At this time, the Sons of Liberty still professed support for the British government and King. They thought that the British Parliment would eventually do the right thing and repeal the tax. They did hold out the possibility that military action might become necessary if their demands were not met.

    British Response

    Reports of the colonial violence against the Stamp Act reached Great Britain by October with newly installed Prime Minister, Charles Watson-Wentworth, Lord Rockingham, in July 1866, replacing George Grenville, whose administration had been responsible for its passage. King George III fired Grenville. The King wanted a partial repeal to avoid a costly war with colonies and keep some of the revenue, but not a total repeal. Beyond the King, sentiments to a response were mixed, but beginning to change. There were some willing to take a hard line stance, thinking that capitulation would set a bad precedent to who was in charge. Others were worried about the economic consequences that could impact other taxes. Two hundred New York City merchants had vowed not to import any goods from Britain until the tax was repealed.

    Grenville attempted to keep his act in place, offering a resolution in Parliament condemning the violence in December 1765. It was rejected. On January 14, 1766, Rockingham and his supporters proposed total repeal, which the King did not like. He would eventually agree under Rockingham's threat of resignation. Various resolutions were proposed over the next two months, both economic and constitutional in argument. British Parliament wanted to protect its rights to control the colonies, but also wished to repeal. On February 21, the final resolutiom was introduced. It passed 276 to 168. The King gave his royal approval on March 18, 1766.

    But the repeal of the Stamp Act was not a sign that the British government did not wish to retain its rights to tax and control the colonies. The Declaratory Act was passed at the same time. It stated that "they" the British had the full right to impose laws and statutes on the colonies. The text, however, did steer away from using the word taxes. There was still the argument of whether taxing the colonies without representation, with the argument split into taxation within the idea of trade (external and therefore appropriate)versus internal measures, such as the Stamp Act (inappropriate), Of course, not all agreed with the distinction at all.

    Full Text, Resolution to Repeal the Stamp Act

    Great Britain: Parliament - An Act Repealing the Stamp Act; March 18, 1766

    Whereas an Act was passed in the last session of Parliament entitled, An Act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties in the British colonies and plantations in America towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same; and for amending such parts of the several Acts of Parliament relating to the trade and revenues of the said colonies and plantations as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned; and whereas the continuance of the said Act would be attended with many inconveniencies, and may be productive of consequences greatly detrimental to the commercial interests of these kingdoms; may it therefore please your most excellent Majesty that it may be enacted; and be it enacted by the king's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that from and after the first day of May, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-six, the above-mentioned Act, and the several matters and things therein contained, shall be, and is and are hereby repealed and made void to all intents and purposes whatsoever.

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    Various Quotes Against the Stamp Act

    Thomas Hutchinson, 1865, Loyalist former governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. "It cannot be good to tax the Americans. You will lose more tax than you gain."

    George Washington, 1865. "The Stamp Act imposed on the colonies by the Parliament of Great Britain is an ill-judged measure. Parliament has no right to put its hands into our pockets without our consent."

    Christopher Gadsden, South Carolina patriot and member of the Continental Congress. "My sentiments for the American cause, from the stamp Act downward, have never changed ... I am still of opinion that it is the cause of liberty and of human nature."

    Image above: Lithograph of the burning of the Stamp Act in Boston in August 1765, 1903. Courtesy Library of Congress. Image Below: Federal Hall (New York City Hall), site of the Stamp Act Congress, and Trinity Church, 1798, Archibald Robertson. Courtesy New York Historical Society via Wikipedia Commons. Info Source: Avalon Project, Yale Law School, Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy, Great Britain The statutes at large [1225 to 1867] by Danby Pickering Cambridge: Printed by Benthem, for C. Bathhurst ; London, 1762-1869; Stamp_Act_History.com; Parliamentary Archives; Founders.archives.gov; alphahistory.com; azquotes.com; Wikipedia Commons;

    Federal Hall, New York City

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