The Ohio Country was a name used in the mid to late 18th century for a region of North America west of the Appalachian Mountains and north of the upper Ohio and Allegheny Rivers extending to Lake Erie. The area encompassed all of present-day Ohio, northwestern West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, a wedge of southeastern Indiana; this area was disputed in the 17th century by the Iroquois and other Native American tribes, by France and Great Britain in the mid-18th century. During British sovereignty, several minor "wars" including Pontiac's Rebellion and Dunmore's war were fought here. Ohio Country became part of unorganized U. S. territory in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris. It was one of the first frontier regions of the United States. Several colonial states had conflicting claims to portions of it, including Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania. In 1787, it became part of the larger organized Northwest Territory. In the 17th century, the area north of the Ohio River had been occupied by the Algonquian-speaking Shawnee and some Siouan language-speaking tribes.
Around 1660, during a conflict known as the Beaver Wars, the Iroquois seized control of the Ohio Country, driving out the Shawnee and Siouans, such as the Omaha and Ponca, who settled further northwest and west. The Iroquois conquered and absorbed the Erie, who spoke an Iroquoian language; the Ohio Country remained uninhabited for decades, was used as a hunting ground by the Iroquois. In the 1720s, a number of Native American groups began to migrate to the Ohio Country from the East, driven by pressure from encroaching colonists. By 1724, Delaware Indians had established the village of Kittanning on the Allegheny River in present-day western Pennsylvania. With them came those Shawnee who had settled in the east. Other bands of the scattered Shawnee tribe began to return to the Ohio Country in the decades that followed. A number of Seneca and other Iroquois migrated to the Ohio Country, moving away from the French and British imperial rivalries south of Lake Ontario; the Seneca were the westernmost of the Iroquois nations based in New York.
In the late 1740s and the second half of the 18th century, the British angled for control of the territory. In 1749, the British Crown, via the colonial government of Virginia, granted the Ohio Company a great deal of this territory on the condition that it be settled by British colonists. With the arrival of the Europeans, both Great Britain and France claimed the area and both sent fur traders into the area to do business with the Ohio Country Indians; the Iroquois League claimed the region by right of conquest. The rivalry between the two European nations, the Iroquois, the Ohio natives for control of the region played an important part in the French and Indian War from 1754 through 1760. After remaining neutral, the Ohio Country Indians sided with the French. Armed with supplies and guns from the French, they raided via the Kittanning Path against British settlers east of the Alleghenies. After they destroyed Fort Granville in the summer of 1756, the colonial governor John Penn ordered Lt. Colonel John Armstrong to destroy the Shawnee villages west of the Alleghenies.
The British defeated the their allies. Meanwhile, other British and colonial forces drove the French from Fort Duquesne and built Fort Pitt, the origin of the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the 1763 Treaty of Paris, France ceded control of the entire Ohio region to Great Britain, without consulting its native allies, who still believed they had territorial claims. Colonies such as Pennsylvania and Virginia claimed some of the westward lands by their original charters. In an attempt to improve relations with the Native Americans to encourage trade and avoid conflicts with colonists, George III in his Royal Proclamation of 1763 placed the Ohio Country in what was declared an Indian Reserve, stretching from the Appalachian Mountains west to the Mississippi River and from as far north as Newfoundland to Florida; the British ordered the existing settlers either to leave or obtain special permission to stay and prohibited British colonists from settling west of the Appalachians. The area was closed to European settlement by the Royal Proclamation of 1763.
The Crown no longer recognized claims. On June 22, 1774, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act. Colonists in the Thirteen Colonies considered this one of the Intolerable Acts passed by Parliament, contributing to the American Revolution. Despite the Crown's actions, frontiersmen from the Virginia and Pennsylvania colonies began to cross the Allegheny Mountains and came into conflict with the Shawnee; the Shawnee referred to the settlers as the Long Knives. Because of the threat posed by the colonists, the Shawnee and other nations of the Ohio Country chose to side with the British against the rebel colonists during the American Revolutionary War. Americans wanted to establish control over the region. In 1778, after victories in the region by the Patriot general George Rogers Clark, the Virginia legislature organized the first American civil government in the region, they called it the Illinois County, which encompassed all of the lands lying west of the Ohio River to which Virginia had any claim.
The high-water mark of the Native American struggle to retain the region was in 1782: the Ohio Nations and the British met in a council at the Chalawgatha village along the Little Miami River to plan what was the successful rout of the Americans at the Battle of Blue Licks, south of the Ohio River, two weeks later. In 1783, following the Treaty of Paris, Great Britain ceded the area to
Republicanism in the United States
Modern republicanism is a guiding political philosophy of the United States, a major part of American civic thought since its founding. It stresses liberty and unalienable individual rights as central values, making people sovereign as a whole. American republicanism was articulated and first practiced by the Founding Fathers in the 18th century. For them, "republicanism represented more than a particular form of government, it was a way of life, a core ideology, an uncompromising commitment to liberty, a total rejection of aristocracy."Republicanism was based on Ancient Greco-Roman and English models and ideas. It formed the basis for the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, as well as the Gettysburg Address. Republicanism includes guarantees of rights. Alexis de Tocqueville warned about the "tyranny of the majority" in a democracy, suggested the courts should try to reverse the efforts of the majority of terminating the rights of an unpopular minority.
The term'republicanism' is derived from the term'republic', but the two words have different meanings. A'republic' is a form of government. Two major parties have used the term in their name – the Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson, the current Republican Party, founded in 1854 and named after the Jeffersonian party; the colonial intellectual and political leaders in the 1760s and 1770s read history to compare governments and their effectiveness of rule. The Revolutionists were concerned with the history of liberty in England and were influenced by the "country party". Country party philosophy relied on the classical republicanism of Roman heritage, it drew on ancient Greek city-state and Roman republican examples. The country party shared some of the political philosophy of Whiggism as well as Tory critics in England which roundly denounced the corruption surrounding the "court party" in London centering on the royal court; this approach produced a political ideology Americans called "republicanism", widespread in colonial America by 1775.
"Republicanism was the distinctive political consciousness of the entire Revolutionary generation." J. G. A. Pocock explained the intellectual sources in America: The Whig canon and the neo-Harringtonians, John Milton, James Harrington and Sidney, Trenchard and Bolingbroke, together with the Greek and Renaissance masters of the tradition as far as Montesquieu, formed the authoritative literature of this culture. American republicanism was centered on limiting greed. Virtue was of the utmost importance for representatives. Revolutionaries took a lesson from ancient Rome. A virtuous citizen was one who ignored monetary compensation and made a commitment to resist and eradicate corruption; the republic was sacred. Republicanism required the service of those who were willing to give up their own interests for a common good. According to Bernard Bailyn, "The preservation of liberty rested on the ability of the people to maintain effective checks on wielders of power and hence in the last analysis rested on the vigilance and moral stamina of the people....
" Virtuous citizens needed to be strong defenders of liberty and challenge the corruption and greed in government. The duty of the virtuous citizen became a foundation for the American Revolution; the commitment of Patriots to republican values was a key intellectual foundation of the American Revolution. In particular, the key was Patriots' intense fear of political corruption and the threat it posed to liberty. Bernard Bailyn states, "The fact that the ministerial conspiracy against liberty had risen from corruption was of the utmost importance to the colonists." In 1768 to 1773 newspaper exposés such as John Dickinson's series of "Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania" were reprinted and spread American disgust with British corruption. The patriot press provided emphasized British corruption and tyranny. Britain was portrayed as corrupt and hostile and that of a threat to the idea of democracy; the greatest threat to liberty was thought by many to be corruption – not just in London but at home as well.
The colonists associated it with luxury and inherited aristocracy, which they condemned. Historian J. G. A. Pococ
Betsy Ross flag
The Betsy Ross flag is an early design of the flag of the United States, popularly – but likely incorrectly – attributed to Betsy Ross, using the common motifs of alternating red-and-white striped field with five-pointed stars in a blue canton. Grace Rogers Cooper noted that the first documented usage of this flag was in 1792; the flag features 13 stars to represent the original 13 colonies with the stars arranged in a circle. Though this early version of an American flag is now called the "Betsy Ross Flag," the claim by her descendants that Betsy Ross contributed to this design is not accepted by modern American scholars and vexillologists; the National Museum of American History notes that the story first entered into American consciousness about the time of the 1876 Centennial Exposition celebrations. In 1870, Ross's grandson, William J. Canby, presented a paper to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in which he claimed that his grandmother had "made with her hands the first flag" of the United States.
Canby said he first obtained this information from his aunt Clarissa Sydney Wilson in 1857, twenty years after Betsy Ross's death. Canby dates the historic episode based on Washington's journey to Philadelphia, in late spring 1776, a year before Congress passed the Flag Act. In the 2008 book The Star-Spangled Banner: The Making of an American Icon, Smithsonian experts point out that Canby's recounting of the event appealed to Americans eager for stories about the revolution and its heroes and heroines. Betsy Ross was promoted as a patriotic role model for young girls and a symbol of women's contributions to American history. Historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich further explored this line of enquiry in a 2007 article, "How Betsy Ross Became Famous: Oral Tradition and the Invention of History." Ross biographer Marla Miller points out, that if one accepts Canby's presentation, Betsy Ross was one of several flag makers in Philadelphia, her only contribution to the design was to change the 6-pointed stars to the easier 5-pointed stars.
According to the traditional account, the original flag was made in June 1776, when a small committee – including George Washington, Robert Morris and relative George Ross – visited Betsy and discussed the need for a new American flag. Betsy accepted the job to manufacture the flag, altering the committee's design by replacing the six-pointed stars with five-pointed stars. Canby's account has been the source of some debate, it is regarded as being neither proven nor disproven, any evidence that may have once existed has been lost. It is worth pointing out that while modern lore may enhance the details of her story, Betsy Ross never claimed any contribution to the flag design except for the five-pointed star, easier for her to make; the main reason historians and flag experts do not believe that Betsy Ross designed or sewed the first American flag is a lack of historical evidence and documentation to support her story. No records show that the Continental Congress had a committee to design the national flag in the spring of 1776.
Although George Washington had been a member of the Continental Congress, he had assumed the position of commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1775, so it would be unlikely that he would have headed a congressional committee in 1776. However he did serve on a committee with John Ross' uncle George Read in 1776. There is no evidence to show that Betsy Ross and George Washington knew each other, or that George Washington was in her shop. However, George Ross and George Washington were both acquaintances of George Read in 1776, he had frequent communication with both parties. In letters and diaries that have surfaced, neither George Washington, Col. Ross, Robert Morris, nor any other member of Congress mentioned anything about a national flag in 1776. Francis Hopkinson, a treasurer of loans and a consultant to the second congressional committee, has a naval design from 1780, a derivative of earlier designs; the Flag Resolution of 1777 was the first documented meeting, discussion, or debate by Congress about a national flag.
It is not unusual that an upholsterer, would have been paid to sew flags. There was a sudden and urgent need for them, other Philadelphia upholsterers were paid to sew flags in 1777 and years following. Supporters of the Ross story make the following arguments: Robert Morris was a business partner of John Ross, Betsy's cousin by marriage, he had served with George Ross on the Marine Committee. George Washington was in Philadelphia in Spring 1776, where he served on a committee with John Ross' uncle George Read, Congress approved $50,000 for the acquisition of tents and "sundry articles" for the Continental Army. On May 29, 1777, Betsy Ross was paid a large sum of money from the Pennsylvania State Navy Board for making flags. Morris was on the Marine Committee at the time the flag vote was taken as part of Marine Committee business. Rachel Fletcher, Betsy Ross's daughter, gave an affidavit to the Betsy Ross story. A painting which might be dated 1851 by Ellie Wheeler the daughter of Thomas Sully, shows Betsy Ross sewing the flag.
If the painting is authentic and the date correct, the story was known nearly 20 years before Canby's presentation to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The question "Who made the first American flag?" can only be given speculative answers. There are at least 17 flag makers and upholsterers who worked in Philadelphia during the time the flag was made. Margaret Manny is thought to have made the first Continental Colors, but there is no evidence to prove she made the Stars and Stripes. Other flag makers of that period include Rebecca Young, Anne King, Cornelia Bridges, flag painter
Constitutional Convention (United States)
The Constitutional Convention took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in the old Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. Although the Convention was intended to revise the league of states and first system of government under the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison of Virginia and Alexander Hamilton of New York, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one; the delegates elected George Washington of Virginia, former commanding general of the Continental Army in the late American Revolutionary War and proponent of a stronger national government, to preside over the Convention. The result of the Convention was the creation of the Constitution of the United States, placing the Convention among the most significant events in American history. At the time, the convention was not referred to as a "Constitutional" convention, nor did most of the delegates arrive intending to draft a new constitution.
Many assumed that the purpose of the convention was to discuss and draft improvements to the existing Articles of Confederation, would have not agreed to participate otherwise. Once the Convention began, most of the delegates – though not all – came to agree in general terms that the goal would be a new system of government, not a revised version of the Articles of Confederation. Several broad outlines were proposed and debated, most notably James Madison's Virginia Plan and William Paterson's New Jersey Plan; the Virginia Plan was selected as the basis for the new government, but several issues delayed further progress and put the success of the Convention in doubt. The most contentious disputes revolved around composition and election of the upper legislative house in the future bicameral Congress, to be known as the Senate, how "proportional representation" was to be defined, whether to divide the executive power between three persons or invest the power into a single chief executive to be called the President, how to elect the President, how long his term was to be and whether he could run for reelection, what offenses should be impeachable, the nature of a fugitive slave clause, whether to allow the abolition of the slave trade, whether judges should be chosen by the legislature or executive.
Most of the time during the Convention was spent on deciding these issues. Progress was slow until mid-July, when the Connecticut Compromise resolved enough lingering arguments for a draft written by the Committee of Detail to gain acceptance. Though more modifications and compromises were made over the following weeks, most of the rough draft remained in place and can be found in the finished version of the Constitution. After several more issues were resolved, the Committee on Style produced the final version in early September, it was voted on by the delegates, inscribed on parchment with engraving for printing, signed by thirty-nine of fifty-five delegates on September 17, 1787. The completed proposed Constitution was released to the public to begin the debate and ratification process. Before the Constitution was drafted, the nearly 4 million inhabitants of the 13 newly independent states were governed under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, created by the Second Continental Congress, first proposed in 1776, adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1778 and only unanimously ratified by the Original Thirteen States by 1781.
It soon became evident to nearly all that the chronically underfunded Confederation government, as organized, was inadequate for managing the various conflicts that arose among the states. As the Articles of Confederation could only be amended by unanimous vote of the states, any state had effective veto power over any proposed change. In addition, the Articles gave the weak federal government no taxing power: it was wholly dependent on the states for its money, had no power to force delinquent states to pay. Once the immediate task of winning the American Revolutionary War of 1775 to 1783 had passed, the states began to look to their own interests, disputes arose; these included a dispute between Maryland and Virginia over the Potomac River and opposition to Rhode Island's imposing taxes on all traffic passing through it on the post road. James Madison suggested that state governments should appoint commissioners "to take into consideration the trade of the United States. Another impetus for the convention was Shays' Rebellion of 1786-1787.
A political conflict between Boston merchants and rural farmers over issues including tax debts had broken out into an open rebellion. This rebellion was led by a former Revolutionary War captain, Daniel Shays, a small farmer with tax debts, who had never received payment for his service in the Continental Army; the rebellion took months for Massachusetts to put down and some desired a federal army that would be able to put down such insurrections. These and other issues worried many of the Founders that the Union as it existed up to that point was in danger of breaking apart, being subject to the persuasion of foreign powers. In September 1786, at the Annapolis Convention, delegates from five states called f
The Townshend Acts were a series of British Acts of Parliament passed during 1767 and 1768 and relating to the British in North America. The acts are named after Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who proposed the program. Historians vary as to which acts they include under the heading "Townshend Acts", but five acts are mentioned: The New York Restraining Act 1767 The Revenue Act 1767 The Indemnity Act 1767 The Commissioners of Customs Act 1767 The Vice Admiralty Court Act 1768 The purposes of the Townshend Acts were To raise revenue in the colonies to pay the salaries of governors and judges so that they would remain loyal to Great Britain To create more effective means of enforcing compliance with trade regulations To punish the Province of New York for failing to comply with the 1765 Quartering Act To establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the coloniesThe Townshend Acts were met with resistance in the colonies, which resulted in the Boston Massacre of 1770.
The Townshend Acts placed an indirect tax on glass, paints and tea. These goods had to be imported from Britain; this form of revenue generation was Townshend's response to the failure of the Stamp Act of 1765, which had provided the first form of direct taxation placed upon the colonies. However, the import duties proved to be controversial. Colonial indignation over the Townshend Acts was predominantly driven by John Dickinson's anonymous publication of Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, as well as the Massachusetts Circular Letter; as a result of widespread protest and non-importation of British goods in colonial ports, Parliament began to repeal the Townshend duties. In March 1770, most of the indirect taxes from the Townshend Acts were repealed by Parliament under Frederick, Lord North. However, the import duty on tea was retained in order to demonstrate to the colonists that Parliament held the sovereign authority to tax its colonies, in accordance with the Declaratory Act of 1766; the British government continued to try to tax the colonists without providing representation in Parliament.
Resentment and corrupt and abusive enforcement spurred colonial attacks on British ships, including the burning of the Gaspee in 1772. Retaining the Townshend Acts' taxation on imported tea, enforced once again by the Tea Act of 1773, subsequently led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773, in which Bostonians destroyed a shipment of taxed tea. Parliament responded with severe punishments in the Intolerable Acts in 1774; the Thirteen Colonies drilled their militia units, tensions escalated into violence in April 1775, launching the American Revolution. Following the Seven Years' War, the British government was deep in debt. To pay a small fraction of the costs of the newly expanded empire, the Parliament of Great Britain decided to levy new taxes on the colonies of British America. Through the Trade and Navigation Acts, Parliament had used taxation to regulate the trade of the empire, but with the Sugar Act of 1764, Parliament sought, for the first time, to tax the colonies for the specific purpose of raising revenue.
American colonists argued. The Americans claimed they were not represented in Parliament, but the British government retorted that they had "virtual representation", a concept the Americans rejected; this issue, only debated following the Sugar Act, became a major point of contention after Parliament's passage of the Stamp Act 1765. The Stamp Act proved to be wildly unpopular in the colonies, contributing to its repeal the following year, along with the failure to raise substantial revenue. Implicit in the Stamp Act dispute was an issue more fundamental than taxation and representation: the question of the extent of Parliament's authority in the colonies. Parliament provided its answer to this question when it repealed the Stamp Act in 1766 by passing the Declaratory Act, which proclaimed that Parliament could legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever"; this was the first of the five acts, passed on June 5, 1767. It forbade the New York Assembly and the governor of New York from passing any new bills until they agreed to comply with the Quartering Act 1765, which required them to pay for and provide housing and supplies for British troops in the colony.
New York resisted the Quartering Act because it amounted to taxation without representation, since they had no representatives in Parliament. Further, New York and the other colonies did not believe British soldiers were any longer necessary in the colonies, since the French and Indian War had come to an end. However, New York reluctantly agreed to pay for at least some of the soldiers' needs as they understood they were going to be punished by Parliament unless they acted; the New York Restraining Act was never implemented. This was the second of the five acts, passed on June 26, 1767, it placed taxes on glass, painters' colors, paper. It gave customs officials broad authority to enforce the taxes and punish smugglers through the use of "writs of assistance", general warrants that could be used to search private property for smuggled goods. There was an angry response from colonists, who deemed the taxes a threat to their rights as British subjects; the use of writs of assistance was controversial, since the right to be secure in one's private property was an established right in Britain.
This act was the third act, passed on June 29, 1767, the same day as the Commissioners of Customs Act.'Indemnity' means
Intelligence in the American Revolutionary War
American Intelligence in the American Revolutionary War was monitored and sanctioned by the Continental Congress to provide military intelligence to the Continental Army to aid them in fighting the British during the American Revolutionary War. Congress created a Secret Committee for domestic intelligence, a Committee of Secret Correspondence for foreign intelligence, a committee on spies, for tracking spies within the Patriot movement; the Second Continental Congress created a Secret Committee on September 18, 1775. The Committee was not, however, a true intelligence agency, since the Committee of Secret Correspondence with which it worked was concerned with obtaining military supplies in secret and distributing them, selling gunpowder to privateers chartered by the Congress; the Committee took over and administered on a uniform basis the secret contracts for arms and gunpowder negotiated by certain members of the Congress without the formal sanction of that body. The Committee kept its transactions secret and destroyed many of its records to ensure the confidentiality of its work.
The Secret Committee employed agents overseas in cooperation with the Committee of Secret Correspondence. It arranged to seize them; the Committee sent missions to seize British supplies in the southern colonies. It arranged the purchase of military stores through intermediaries to conceal the fact that Congress was the true purchaser, they used foreign flags to attempt to protect the vessels from the British fleet. The members of the Continental Congress appointed to the Committee included some of the most influential and responsible members of Congress: Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, Robert Livingston, John Dickinson, Thomas Willing, Thomas McKean, John Langdon, Samuel Ward. Recognizing the need for foreign intelligence and foreign alliances, the Second Continental Congress created the Committee of Correspondence by a resolution of November 29, 1775: RESOLVED, That a committee of five would be appointed for the sole purpose of corresponding with our friends in Great Britain, other parts of the world, that they lay their correspondence before Congress when directed.
RESOLVED, That this Congress will make provision to defray all such expenses as they may arise by carrying on such correspondence, for the payment of such agents as the said Committee may send on this service. The original Committee members—America's first foreign intelligence agency—were Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Johnson. Subsequent appointees included James Lovell, a teacher, arrested by the British after the Battle of Bunker Hill on charges of spying, he had been exchanged for a British prisoner and was elected to the Continental Congress. On the Committee, he became the Congress' expert on codes and ciphers and has been called the father of American cryptanalysis; the committee employed secret agents abroad, conducted covert operations, devised codes and ciphers, funded propaganda activities, authorized the opening of private mail, acquired foreign publications for use in analysis, established a courier system, developed a maritime capability apart from that of the Continental Navy, engaged in regular communications with Britons and Scots who sympathized with the American cause.
It met secretly in December 1775 with a French intelligence agent who visited Philadelphia under cover as a Flemish merchant. On April 17, 1777, the Committee of Secret Correspondence was renamed the Committee of Foreign Affairs but kept with its intelligence function. Matters of diplomacy were conducted by the Congress as a whole. On January 10, 1781, the Department of Foreign Affairs—the forerunner of the Department of State—was created and tasked with "obtaining the most extensive and useful information relative to foreign affairs", the head of, empowered to correspond "with all other persons from whom he may expect to receive useful information." On June 5, 1776, the Congress appointed John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Edward Rutledge, James Wilson, Robert Livingston "to consider what is proper to be done with persons giving intelligence to the enemy or supplying them with provisions." They were charged with revising the Articles of War in regard to espionage directed against the American forces.
The problem was an urgent one: Dr. Benjamin Church, chief physician of the Continental Army, had been seized and imprisoned as a British agent, but there was no civilian espionage act, George Washington thought the existing military law did not provide punishment severe enough to afford a deterrent. On November 7, 1775, the death penalty was added for espionage to the Articles of War, but the clause was not applied retroactively, Dr. Church escaped execution. On August 21, 1776, the Committee's report was considered by the Congress, which enacted the first espionage act: RESOLVED, That all persons not members of, nor owing allegiance to, any of the United States of America, as described in a resolution to the Congress of the 29th of June last, who shall be found lurking as spies in or about the fortification or encampments of the armies of the United States, or of any of them, shall suffer death, according to the law and usage of nations, by sentence of a court martial, or such other punishment as such court martial may direct.
It was resolved further that the act "be printed at the end of the rules and articles of war." On February 27, 1778, the law was broadened to include any "inhabitants of these states" whose intelligence activities aided the enemy in capturing or killing revolutionary forces. The Committee of Secret Correspondence insisted that matters pertaining to the fu
Stamp Act 1765
The Stamp Act of 1765 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain that imposed a direct tax on the British colonies and plantations in America and required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp. Printed materials included legal documents, playing cards and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies. Like previous taxes, the stamp tax had to be paid in valid British currency, not in colonial paper money; the purpose of the tax was to pay for British military troops stationed in the American colonies after the French and Indian War, the North American theater of the Seven Years' War. However, the colonists had never feared a French invasion to begin with, they contended that they had paid their share of the war expenses, they suggested that it was a matter of British patronage to surplus British officers and career soldiers who should be paid by London. The Stamp Act was unpopular among colonists.
A majority considered it a violation of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent—consent that only the colonial legislatures could grant. Their slogan was "No taxation without representation." Colonial assemblies sent petitions and protests, the Stamp Act Congress held in New York City was the first significant joint colonial response to any British measure when it petitioned Parliament and the King. One member of the British Parliament argued that the colonials were no different from the 90% residents of Great Britain who did not own property and thus could not vote, but who were "virtually" represented by land-owning electors and representatives who had common interests with them. An American attorney refuted this by pointing out that the relations between the Americans and the English electors were "a knot too infirm to be relied on" for proper representation, "virtual" or otherwise. Local protest groups established Committees of Correspondence which created a loose coalition from New England to Maryland.
Protests and demonstrations increased initiated by the Sons of Liberty and involving hanging of effigies. Soon, all stamp tax distributors were intimidated into resigning their commissions, the tax was never collected. Opposition to the Stamp Act was not limited to the colonies. British merchants and manufacturers pressured Parliament because their exports to the colonies were threatened by boycotts; the Act was repealed on 18 March 1766 as a matter of expedience, but Parliament affirmed its power to legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever" by passing the Declaratory Act. A series of new taxes and regulations ensued—likewise opposed by the colonists; the episode played a major role in defining the 27 colonial grievances that were stated within the text of the Indictment of George III section of the United States Declaration of Independence, enabling the organized colonial resistance that led to the American Revolution in 1775. The British victory in the Seven Years' War, known in America as the French and Indian War, had been won only at a great financial cost.
During the war, the British national debt nearly doubled, rising from £72,289,673 in 1755 to £129,586,789 by 1764. Post-war expenses were expected to remain high because the Bute ministry decided in early 1763 to keep ten thousand British regular soldiers in the American colonies, which would cost about £225,000 per year, equal to £32 million today; the primary reason for retaining such a large force was that demobilizing the army would put 1,500 officers out of work, many of whom were well-connected in Parliament. This made it politically prudent to retain a large peacetime establishment, but Britons were averse to maintaining a standing army at home so it was necessary to garrison most of the troops elsewhere. Stationing 10,000 troops to separate American Indians and frontiersmen was one role; the outbreak of Pontiac's Rebellion in May 1763 reinforced the logic of this decision, as it was an American Indian uprising against the British expansion. The main reason to send 10,000 troops deep into the wilderness was to provide billets for the officers who were part of the British patronage system.
John Adams said, "Revenue is still demanded from America, appropriated to the maintenance of swarms of officers and pensioners in idleness and luxury." George Grenville became prime minister in April 1763 after the failure of the short-lived Bute Ministry, he had to find a way to pay for this large peacetime army. Raising taxes in Britain was out of the question, since there had been virulent protests in England against the Bute ministry's 1763 cider tax, with Bute being hanged in effigy; the Grenville ministry therefore decided that Parliament would raise this revenue by taxing the American colonists without their consent. This was something new. Politicians in London had always expected American colonists to contribute to the cost of their own defense. So long as a French threat existed, there was little trouble convincing colonial legislatures to provide assistance; such help was provided through the raising of colonial militias, which were funded by taxes raised by colonial legislatures. The legislatures were sometimes willing to help maintain regular British units defending the colonies.
So long as this sort of help was forthcoming, there was little reason for the British Parliament to impose its own taxes on the colonists. But after the peace of 1763, colonial militias were stood down. Militia of