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The Birth and Government

of the

United States of America

Before the American Revolution

Ancient Times to 1775

Page 6

STAMP ACT CONGRESS

In October of 1765, united against the Stamp Act, the Stamp Act Congress convened in New York City with representatives from nine of the thirteen colonies. The Congress sent a resolution to King George III and the English Parliament calling for the repeal of the Stamp Act and the Acts of 1764. The resolution stated that only colonial legislatures can tax colonial residents and that taxation without representation violated the colonistsí basic civil rights.

In March of 1766, King George III signed a bill repealing the Stamp Act. During the debate over its repeal, Benjamin Franklin appeared before Parliament to make an argument on behalf of the colonists. Franklin warned of impending revolution if the Stamp Act was not repealed.

One the same day it repealed the Stamp Act, the English Parliament passed the Declaratory Act. It states that the British government has total power to legislate any laws governing the American colonies in all cases whatsoever. Colonial anger toward England reached at an all time high.

Earlier, in January of 1766, the New York legislature refused to comply completely with the Quartering Act. Later, in December of that year, the New York legislature is suspended by the King George III as punishment.

In June of 1767, the English Parliament passed the Townshend Revenue Acts. They imposed new taxes on the colonists to pay for the cost of protecting and administering the American colonies. Imported glass, tea, paper and paints would cost would be taxed.

Circular Letter

In February of 1768, colonist Samuel Adams wrote the Circular Letter opposing taxation without representation. The letter also called for the colonies to unite against the British government. Adams distributed the letter to all the colonial assemblies and to the general public. The independence movement gained momentum as numerous colonial assemblies endorsed the Circular Letter. This was an important moment in the movement toward independence.

In May of 1768, after being harassed by Boston agitators, custom commissioners called for help and a British warship responded by sailing into Boston Harbor. Tensions between colonists and the British continued to flare. In protest of the Townsend Acts, New York and Boston merchants agreed to boycott most British goods. In a town meeting that September, residents of Boston began arming themselves as more English warships sailed into Boston Harbor to land two regiments of English infantry. The British soldiers set up permanent residence to keep order.

In May of 1769, as the boycott against British goods expanded, George Washington submitted to the Virginia House of Burgesses a set of resolutions written by George Mason. Known as the Virginia Resolves, the plan opposed taxation without representation, supported Samuel Adamís Circular Letter, and denounced British plans to send colonist agitators to England to stand trial. Shortly thereafter, the Royal governor of Virginia dissolved the House of Burgesses. Nevertheless, members met privately and agreed to join the boycott of British goods. Later that year, the boycott spread to New Jersey, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.

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