Taxes Lead to Colonial Protest
Between 1764 and 1773, Parliament passed a series of new acts, or laws, for
the colonies. Most of those acts were tax laws. The tax money would go to the
British government to help pay for British troops in America. The money would
also help Britain repay its war debt.
Many colonists were angered by the tax laws. They believed the laws violated, or went against, their rights.
No Taxation Without Representation
In 1764, Parliament passed the Sugar Act. That law forced colonists to pay taxes on goods that they imported (brought in) from Britain. Some of those goods were sugar, coffee, and wine. Colonists had not paid taxes on those goods before.
In 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act. That Act said that special tax stamps had to be put on items such as newspapers, playing cards, and legal papers. The stamps showed that the tax on those items had been paid. The tax stamps raised the price of those items, sometimes from a penny to ten dollars.
The Stamp Act also said that colonists who disobeyed the Act would be tried in special courts. The special courts would not have juries.
The Stamp Act angered the colonists. They believed the Act took away their right to make their own laws. They also believed the Act took away their right to a jury trial.
Many angry colonists began to say, "No taxation without representation!" They meant that Parliament had no right to tax them because the colonists could not elect people to represent, or speak for, them in Parliament. The colonists believed that only their elected legislatures had the right to tax them.
The Colonists Protest
People throughout the colonies protested against the Stamp Act. One who spoke out was Patrick Henry, a Virginia lawmaker. He made a powerful speech against the tax in the Virginia House of Burgesses.
Colonists calling themselves the Sons of Liberty led marches against the Act. They seized and burned the hated stamps in several cities. Women formed groups called the Daughters of Liberty. They called upon all women to boycott British goods. Faced with such protest, Parliament gave in. In 1766, it repealed the Stamp Act.