The Stamp Act of 1765 was part of Great Britain's effort to strengthen imperial control over the empire and to raise additional revenues following the Seven Years War (better known as the French and Indian War). The act, however, sparked bitter debates concerning Parliament's sovereignty over the American colonies. Believing the stamp tax unconstitutional, American colonists up and down the eastern seaboard launched a series of protests that effectively nullified the act's operation.
In early 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, but maintained its claim of imperial sovereignty with the passage of the largely-symbolic Declaratory Act. The crisis marked the beginning of a long political dispute that would culminate ten years later with the start of the Revolutionary War.
Questions to pose in a lecture and/or class discussion on the Stamp Act Crisis:
1. Why did the British not attempt to directly tax American colonials before 1765?
2. Why were American colonials so outraged by the stamp tax – were they simply greedy or were they motivated by principle?
3. Why were British officials so surprised by the American response to the tax?
4. Did the British repeal of the Stamp Act embolden American colonials to resist subsequent British taxes and policies?