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Toward Independence, The Stamp Act Crisis
nonimportation agreements, Declaratory Act, Admiralty Courts, colonial assemblies, Stamp Act Congress
That year, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required all legal documents, licenses, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets, dice, and playing cards to carry a tax stamp. The Stamp Tax raised revenue from thousands of daily transactions in all of the colonies. In addition, those accused of violating the act would be tried in Vice–Admiralty Courts—royal tribunals without juries that formerly heard only cases involving maritime law. The colonial assemblies petitioned the British, insisting that only they could tax Americans. The assemblies also sent delegates to a Stamp Act Congress, which adopted a moderate petition of protest and sent it to England. Other Americans took more forceful measures. Before the Act went into effect, in every large colonial town, mobs of artisans and laborers, sometimes including blacks and women, attacked men who accepted appointments as Stamp Act commissioners, usually forcing them to resign. American merchants also organized nonimportation agreements, which put pressure on English merchants, who in turn pressured the British government.
In spring 1766 a newly elected Parliament repealed the Stamp Tax, believing it had been unwise. Parliament did not, however, doubt its right to tax the colonies. When it repealed the Stamp Act, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, which reaffirmed Parliament’s right to legislate for the colonies “in all cases whatsoever.”
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