“No taxation without representation! ” This was the cry that came forth from the American rebellion after George Greenville proposed the Stamp Act in England’s House of Commons. George Greenville had a plan to help pay off debt and help pay for soldiers to protect the American frontier. The Stamp Act, Greenville’s plan, was proposed on March 9th 1765 and took effect on March 22nd 1765. The act was to tax printed documents such as ship papers, legal papers, newspapers, licenses, and even playing cards. This act was passed by the British Parliament but wasn’t accepted for long from the Americans.
To many it was taken offensively because taxes were originally used for commerce reasons; however, when the Stamp Act came about their money was being used for fundraiser purposes. Was Greenville’s Stamp Act plan a good idea? Although it helped pay off England’s debt and helped pay for England’s protection, it also upset those who were required to pay the extra tax with having no say as to how their money was being used (Colonial Williamsburg). Some things prior to the Stamp Act were The Sugar Act, The Seven Year War with France, and a Royal Proclamation.
The reason there was so much debt to be paid off was because of Great Britain’s involvement in the Seven Years War with France. Hundreds of thousands of pounds were spent on the war by the colonies. George Greenville, the British lord of the treasury, wanted to have Americans pay to help reduce debt. Greenville’s responsibility was to have an effect on economies, to raise money to help budget, and to enforce trade laws (Copeland, 192-193). In order to do what he needed to, Greenville proposed The Royal Proclamation which prohibited settlement along any rivers that fall between the Atlantic Ocean going both West and North.
This Proclamation however, was opposed by the colonists because they felt it was unnecessary. The American Colonies were starting to gain economic maturity. Although it was good for them, there was a notice of debt due to supporting and protecting England’s investments. English land taxes consisted of a tax on housing, malt, cider, and beer. The tax on stamps increased and imposed new taxes on things like windows and lights made of glass (Weslager, 28-30). The Currency Act was another act passed prior to the Stamp Act and it came into effect on September 1st, 1764.
This act was one of many that Greenville supported. What a surprise, this too was an opposition in the colonies. “The thirteen colonies were without gold or silver mines, and their specie was obtained principally from England or the West Indies in payment for exported products such as tobacco, rum, indigo, furs, lumber, and others”(Weslager, 29). This caused trade to no longer have a balance which meant money would be a problem too. This caused merchants to rely on paper currency as their legal tender. Along with paper currency there were land banks established, loan offices and book credits.
The Currency Act denied colonies to issue paper currency (Weslanger, 29). “The act applied to all paper tender used in the colonies, or in the international trade, which meant that the mother country was taking over control of the colonial currency system” (Weslager, 29). Parliament approved Greenville’s Sugar Act of 1764 before he proposed the Stamp Act. The Sugar Act was passed by parliament on April 5th, 1764. This act was also re enacted in 1733 and back then it stated that merchants were required to pay six pence per gallon of foreign molasses that were being imported.
This act placed a duty on Sugar but lowered the tax on Americans’ other sweetener known as molasses. Molasses was a sweetener used for cooking things liked baked beans, puddings, pies, bread, home-brewed beer, and more (Copeland, 192-193). “Americans felt that Greenville’s proposal taxes represented a double burden on them because they were already responsible for the debts incurred by the colonies” (Copeland 192-193). The point of this act was to reduce the rate of tax on molasses and would also tax other things like sugar, certain wines, printed calico, coffee, and more.
It was because of this act that Greenville and his peers came up with the Stamp Act (Copeland, 194). March 22nd 1765 was the day that Parliament passed George Greenville’s Stamp Act. This act was to help make money to reduce debt but soon became a burden to those who printed the documents being taxed. For example, a printer from Philadelphia, William Bradford, printed a journal called, “Pennsylvania Journal”. He surrounded his journal articles with thick black borders. It was commonly known during this time that these borders were used to show deaths of important people.
Along with the black symbolic border was a picture of a skull with cross bones. This was placed where the stamp was usually placed. The message that went along with the picture said, “Expiring: in hopes of a resurrection to life again” (Copeland, 193). Once this action was noticed other printers joined with Bradford and agreed not to print anymore papers or documents unless the papers were no longer taxed (Copeland, 193-194). November 1st was the set date to have the Stamp Act become a law in all of America (Copeland, 194).
Many actions were taken to put the Stamp Act to an end. Letters and essays were written and a notice was placed in the Boston Gazette to oppose the Stamp Act completely. The Gazette put out petitions to repeal the act as well. Many groups were formed due to the Stamp Act. A well known group during this time was the Sons of Liberty. These members came together to write against it. Two famously known members were John and Samuel Adams. These taxpaying citizens worked hard for their money and without representation it was used in ways they did not agree with.
Although the Stamp Act was practiced in America, with no surprise, the Stamp Act failed to become a law in America (Copeland 192-195). Printers began printing again with the saying, “No stamped paper to be had” on the front page (Copeland 195). Not only was the Stamp Act a huge problem for the people but George Greenville was a problem too. The acts Greenville played a part in, all relied on reducing debt. Reducing debt of course was a good idea; however, taking on more than he could handle at once was not. Greenville was involved in the Sugar Act, The Currency Act, and more prior to his oh so brilliant idea of the Stamp Act.
The one thing I truly disliked about Greenville was his lack of communication and information between the colonies and himself along with the people it was going to affect as well. “And what made matters worse… was his failure to notify the colonial governors that he had decided to ask parliament for a stamp duty” (Kauff,75). This left many with unanswered questions and very little patience. The same people trying to cope with the Sugar Act and its tax on molasses were dealing with new rumors of yet another tax act on the way (Kauff, 77). Greenville claimed to have had fifty-five resolutions that the Stamp Act would carry out.
These fifty-five so called resolutions all stated different amounts of pence or shillings that would be applied to different types of paper printed documents all to gain more money and reduce more debt. Before it came down to the final decision there was one last meeting held. Along with Greenville, were Benjamin Franklin, Jared Ingersoll, Richard Jackson, and Charles Garth and at this meeting it became completely clear that there was absolutely nothing that could be done to change George’s mind (Kauff, 77). Many colonies were against the Stamp Act.
There were riots throughout the streets and mobbing as well. “The Stamp Act was regarded as an attack on them by their own government” (Copeland, 205). This is how the Americans felt and thought that it was necessary to take a stand for themselves since no one else was trying to help them. All they had to rely on was the members of parliament from England and although that is better than nothing; however, they have no connection to them (Copeland, 206). The Stamp Act created a confrontation not only between the American people themselves, but also between America and Britain.
In all honesty, why should the American people work hard, slave labor jobs, get paid horribly low wages, and have half of what they earned taken away in taxes to pay for England’s debt? They didn’t have anything to do with how England’s debt got built up so therefore they should not be held responsible to help lower it. This act would still be a horrible idea if it was around today. During the time of the Stamp Act’s proposal there was a debt due to the Seven Year war with France and today our economy is low due to wars with places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
In my opinion, being a full time student while working a part time job I would be against the act as well. The reason it’s different is because the debt back in 1764 was with England. With my understanding America is in debt as well and will be for a long time but it is because of our own actions and my citizenship to this country that I do not mind my taxes going towards the wars we are involved in. I have many people close to me that are in all different areas throughout the military and they need all or any support that they can get.
Greenville had the right idea when it came to raising money to help clear up debt issues; however, he didn’t go about it in the correct manner. You can’t just expect people to want to pay for other people’s decisions or problems. Also it is up to the American who works and pays his dues to decide where his money should go and how it should be used. This horrible act was not a success because of all the trouble it caused and because of the little consideration there was. March of 1766 was one of the greatest days for American tax payers. This is because the Stamp Act finally came to an end. Thank God!