Land of the Brave

The Stamp Tax

Colonial America - Land of the Brave

Definition of the Stamp Tax
The Meaning and Definition of the Stamp Tax: The Stamp Tax of 1765 was a British Act, passed by the Parliament of Great Britain on  February 6th, 1765, during the reign of King George III during the ministry of George Grenville (Lord Grenville). The Stamp Tax was designed to raise revenue from the American Colonies by a duty (tax) in the form of a stamp required on all newspapers and legal or commercial documents.

The bill for the Stamp Tax was passed in the House of Commons on February 17, approved by the House of Lords on March 8th, and two weeks later ordered in effect by the King.

The Stamp Tax took effect on November 1, 1765. The Stamp Tax was first direct tax to be levied on the American colonies. It was the first serious attempt to assert British governmental authority over the .

Stamp Tax Facts
Interesting facts about the Stamp Tax:

The year the British Stamp Tax was passed 1765. The Stamp Tax called for the taxing of 54 separate items. Documents subject to the Stamp Tax of 1765 included newspapers, liquor licenses, legal documents, calendars. almanacs, certificates, diplomas, contracts, wills, Bills of Sale and Licenses

The documents required different rates of Stamp tax ranging from penny up to 10

Dice were the only non-paper items listed under the 1765 Act and stamp impressions were made on the dice as proof that the Stamp Tax had been paid 

As the Stamp Tax applied to both playing cards and dice this was viewed as an indirect tax on gambling

The Stamp Tax Stamps were not like the stamps that we put on envelopes. Some documents were printed on, stamped, or embossed on paper 

The French and Indian War was a victory for the British but they were left with a massive war debt of 130 million pounds. One of the reasons the Stamp Tax was introduced was to clear the war debt. The policy of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Grenville, was to raise revenue by taxing the American colonists, rather than taxing the people in Great Britain. The main purpose of the Act was to raise revenue to pay for the British military presence in the American colonies

The Stamp Tax stated that any publications in 'foreign tongues' had to pay twice the normal rates

Newspapers were taxed according to their size - any advertisements were also taxed!

The Stamp Tax Stamps had to be paid with 'hard currency' (silver or gold coins) and not in paper money, which was the most common form of payment in the colonies. Failure to pay Stamp Taxes incurred penalties, fines and forfeitures. The fines ranged from 2 up to 10. Anyone involved in the counterfeit of documents to avoid the taxes faced the Death Penalty

There was no Trial by Jury for anyone who offended the Stamp Tax - cases were heard in the Admiralty Courts. There was no trial by jury in the Admiralty Courts. Cases were decided by judges rather than juries  

The Stamp Tax was introduced by a direct order from Britain without approval of the colonial legislature - the cry of "No taxation without representation" was heard throughout the American colonies 

The Stamp Tax led to the first concerted effort by the American colonists to resist the British Parliament and the authority of Great Britain and the creation of resistance groups such as the Sons of Liberty 

Arguments against the 1765 Act were distributed from assembly to assembly in the form of "circulars". Patrick Henry introduced 7 resolutions against the Stamp Tax in the Virginia House of Burgesses.

The Repeal of the Stamp Tax is approved by the House of Commons in February 1766

The British Act led to outrage, anger, resentment, protests, dissension and ultimately to the American Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. 

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