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How the Stamp Act Pushed the American Revolution

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During Britain’s victory in the French & Indian War, the nation had collected a national debt that reached £130,000,000. The citizens’ discontent was revived during this period of time due to unfair treatment from British Parliament. Although the Stamp Act allowed England to fund recovery after the French and Indian war, it had also at the same time taken away from the citizens themselves bringing on unnecessary taxes without a known purpose. Outrage was immediate. Political groups such as the secret Sons of Liberty, the Virginia legislature and other colonial assemblies had passed resolutions opposing The Stamp Act. When nine colonies had sent their representatives to New York to attend a Stamp Act Congress, regardless of their opposition, the Stamp Act was still put into place on November 1st of 1765. With the arrival of the stamp’s colonists began their pursuit of violence and economic retaliation. The Stamp Act pushed the American Revolution by allowing the colonists to see how British government was abusing its’ power. The stamp act allowed the colonies to unite over one common goal and ultimately over rule British government. When Bernard’s letters were found it increased the colonist’s belief that Britain had been abusing its power in order to benefit the crown as opposed to the colonists themselves.

“Francis Bernard, governor of colonial Massachusetts from 1760 to 1771, was a principal actor in the advent of the American Revolution.” Through the influence of his connections in the Colonial Office, Bernard was given the title governor of Massachusetts in late 1759. ” he undoubtedly owed his advancements in the colonies less to demonstrated merit than to the influence of his wife’s cousin, the second Viscount Barrington, who then served as Britain’s secretary at war,” Bernard proved himself to be a controversial figure. Those who challenged him in government accused him of´ aggressively pursuing customs violations to add to his own income. “The letters dated from November 1 to December 5, 1768, severely censured the town of Boston and the Council for refusing to cooperate with Governor Bernard and General Gage in quartering the two regiments that had arrived. Bernard also strongly urged that the Massachusetts charter be altered to make the Council more dependent on the crown. People also believed that Bernard had purposefully misrepresented the political conditions to convince the authorities in England to send troops to the U.S. to support the way he was governing. At the end of his governorship, the Massachusetts House of Representatives signed for his recall. Bernard’s letters and other incidental papers provide insight into the personalities and controversies causing Boston to become hostile in the pre-Revolutionary period. “Francis Bernard, governor of Massachusetts from 1760 to 1769, was one of the most unpopular royal servants in America.”

Bernard’s adversaries included some of the Revolution’s most venerated leaders, such as Otis’s friend Samuel Adams, the most influential of Boston’s popular politicians, and Samuel’s cousin John, a promising lawyer and future U.S. president. They and other patriots believed that the movement for American self-determination originated during Bernard’s administration of 1760-1771, when the colonists first campaigned against the reform of the trade laws and the introduction of parliamentary taxation. Francis Bernard wrote the letter. Bernard’s background shows us the kind of people that were allowed in charge, and the type of people who were signing laws into place. Sir Francis clearly took advantage of the position he was given- this led to the colonists having a common dislike and dissatisfaction with the government; this leads to what we see in the letter where Francis Bernard is warning Thomas Hutchinson’s on the attacks of the authority’s homes. The governor’s background allows us to see the letter through the colonists’ eyes.

The initial few events that sparked the idea of rebellion such as the Boston Massacre, started as a conflict over the way Great Britain was administrating the colonies and the way the colonies thought they should and desired to be treated. The crowns administration was demonstrating the idea that Americans were to answer to the Parliament. This caused issues because Americans felt they should have all the rights that the Englishmen had hence why they felt the need to begin storming the governor’s homes. We see Sir Francis Bernard warning his fellow Englishmen in the letter of this exact situation. The British, on the other hand though whole heartedly believed and thought that the colonies were made to be used and worked in ways that best suited the Crown and Parliament of England. This ideology of the colonists is shown in one of the rallying cries of the American Revolution: ‘No Tax collection Without Representation.’ This battle cry is another example of the colonists sharing a common belief and a common goal.

Since the whole point of immigrating to America was to be free from the crown, the location and geography of the colonies also contributed to the revolution. Once the colonies had become physically separated and distant from the Crown and Parliament of Great – Britain, the distance made and distributed a sense of freedom and independence for the colonists that was difficult to overcome. The people who had been willing to colonize and live the new world for the most part had a hunger for equal and new opportunities. The colonists also commonly had wished for reform of their corrupted Government. The presence of colonial assemblies implied the idea to the colonists that they were for the most part free and separated from the crown. These colonial assemblies were permitted to collect money, pass laws, and allowed to gather troops. Soon over time, Bernard shortly after called troops to Massachusetts and within that small amount of time the British Armed force made its presence very well known, this angered the colonists and then they were again constrained by the Crown over the Atlantic sea. The arrival of the British Army was taken as an insult to the colonists and their colonial government. The arrival of a once controlling body agitated the colony and was enough to set off, begin, and build up to the framework of the American Revolution.

The Political disagreements and corruption had to be endured by the colonists once again, and this became a standard occurrence as these realities were set in place. An example of this corruption was shown in 1769, when Alexander McDougall was detained for slander of the parliament when his work ‘To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York’ was distributed among the colonies. His detainment and the Boston Massacre were both two extremely well-known examples of the measures and rules the British had taken and put into place to break down on the protester’s morale. After six British soldiers were accused and two soldiers dishonorably released and discharged for their part in the Boston Massacre, they were protected by John Adams and because of this the British government changed the rules.

From there and that point on, any officers having been charged of any offense inside the colonies would be sent to England for their trial as opposed to attending court in that colony. This meant for the English that fewer witnesses from the event overseas would be able to be present in court to give their receipts and testimony of that particular event. This obviously led to less frequent and fewer convictions of the Englishmen. Another example of the way the justice system was corrupt was the colonists soon lost the ability for jury trials, they were replaced with verdicts and punishments handed from no one other than a colonial judge. Within a small amount of time from the arrival of the British task force the colonial authorities lost power over this as well because the judges were thought and known to be bias, paid, watched, supervised, and chosen by the British government. The right to a fair trial by a jury of their peers was no longer possible for many colonists.

This letter shows us how Sir Francis Bernard was warning other political leaders at the time of the upcoming rebellion. The meaning behind the letter had shown us how when the colonies were founded the idea of freedom and guaranteed rights were created as well. When the colonists finally had enough of the unfair treatment, they soon began to question the solidity of the government they had been told to follow. Without letters like these having been found the colonists would have never had the knowledge of what exactly the purpose behind these taxes and rules were, once the colonists realized the government was taking advantage, they began the American revolution and fight for freedom from the crown. The letter gives us insight to how the American people all retaliated against a corrupt and unjust government, it shows us how during the time period we became so strong willed as Americans, that we forgot all the things that kept us separate, such as class, and wealth in order to establish a lifestyle where they were free from controlling and manipulative governments. 

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