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The Stamp Act, a Trigger for The American Revolution

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Up until the British Parliament imposed the Stamp Act on the American colonies, colonists in America had been proud to be British. There was very little reason to believe that the colonies would revolt and declare their independence from Great Britain. While American colonists were weary and suspicious of the British aristocracy and their downward views of colonists, it had not fully revealed itself until news of the Stamp Act of 1765 reached the shores of America. The imposition of the Stamp Act changed this general attitude in the colonies and would become the first domino to fall on the road to independence.

Unlike Great Britain, which was entirely ruled by the aristocracy, many of the wealthy landowners, legislators, and the colonial elites in the colonies were not aristocrats. Many of the founding fathers had come from humble beginnings. Benjamin Franklin was the son of a candlemaker, Thomas Jefferson was a son of a surveyor who had received no formal education, and Alexander Hamilton was an orphan born in the British West Indies. No matter how much wealth and power some of the colonists had accumulated, the aristocrats in Great Britain would always see them as commoners and never as equals. In spite of this, the colonists in America very much saw themselves as British people and were proud of that fact.

As a British colony, the defense and administration of the American colonies were the responsibility of Great Britain. This came at an enormous cost with British ships taking on average of six weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean. After the Seven Years’ War and the French and Indian War, many British troops remained stationed in the American colonies. British Parliament decided it would impose a Stamp Act that required many printed materials to be printed on stamped paper, which carried a tax to be paid, which would help pay for the troops stationed in the Americas. Once news of the Stamp Act reached the colonies, it was immediately decried by colonists. George Washington, then a delegate from Virginia, called the Stamp Act an “ill-judged measure, Parliament has no right to put their hands in our pockets without our consent.”

For over a century, the American colonies, for the most part, had governed themselves. The amount of the tax itself was not the biggest offense in the eyes of the colonists, it was the unilateral decision made by the British Parliament to impose the tax on the colonies without the consent of the colonies. It was debated in the colonies whether they should even allow British Parliament to impose a tax on them. If the colonies allowed the British to tax them on printed materials, what other things could they tax the colonists on? The colonies had no representation whatsoever in British Parliament and found this decision to be extraordinarily disrespectful to the sovereignty of the colonies, which had largely governed and taxed themselves for over a century. This decision only confirmed the suspicions of colonists who believed that the aristocracy of Great Britain viewed the American colonists as inferior subjects who only existed by the decree of Great Britain.

While American colonists had very much been proud of being British, the elites of Great Britain would never see them as equals. This separation was highlighted in the imposition of the Stamp Act of 1765, which was passed without consulting the colonies. Although the Stamp Act would be repealed in 1766 amid the uproar in the colonies, the damage had been done. The Stamp Act was seen as a great offense to the sovereignty of the colonies and as a statement from Great Britain that the colonists are under the rule of Great Britain. The Stamp Act confirmed to colonists that their freedom was under attack and the end game was either they fight tyranny or live as subjects of tyranny.

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The Stamp Act, a Trigger for the American Revolution. (2018, November 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from
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