Samuel Adams Paul Revere artwork

On this day in 1765, the British Parliament passed the ill-fated Stamp Act.

You may recall from Our March 18 post that Parliament repealed the Stamp Act after just 361 days, in 1766.

Again, the Stamp Act was taxation without representation. This policy helped trigger a movement against the British government, which led to the American Revolution within a decade.

Sons of Liberty

This movement spawned a secret society of tradesmen and landowners from throughout the colonies known as the Sons of Liberty. They sought to protect the rights of the colonists and to resist unjust laws and taxation from the British.

Some notable members were Benedict Arnold, Christopher Gadsden, John Hancock, Patrick Henry (be sure to see Our March 23rd post), Benjamin Rush, Paul Revere, and of course, Samuel Adams.

In fact, an engraved bust portrait of Samuel Adams done by Paul Revere for the Royal American Magazine inspired the artwork for Our “Mr. Samuel Adams on Voting Accountability” t-shirt.

Samuel Adams Paul Revere artwork Sons of Liberty Stamp Act

Benjamin Franklin t-shirt

On this day in 1766, the British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act.

The Stamp Act forced the colonists to buy a British stamp for every official document they obtained. Of course, this led to intense opposition as it was a clear example taxation without representation, one of the major causes of the Revolution.

After months of protest, and an appeal by Benjamin Franklin before the British House of Commons, Parliament finally repeals the Act.

Here are two portions of Franklin’s testimony:

Q. Do not you think the people of America would submit to pay the stamp duty, if it was moderated?
A. No, never, unless compelled by force of arms… .”

Q. If the Stamp Act should be repealed, would it induce the assemblies of America to acknowledge the right of Parliament to tax them, and would they erase their resolutions [against the Stamp Act]?
A. No, never.

Q. Is there no means of obliging them to erase those resolutions?
A. None that I know of; they will never do it, unless compelled by force of arms.

Q. Is there a power on earth that can force them to erase them?
A. No power, how great soever, can force men to change their opinions… .”

Convincing Power

Benjamin Franklin knew the true source of the power to convince, and he said as much when he motioned for daily prayers at the Constitutional Convention in 1787:

“I have lived a long time, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”

Franklin’s powerful quote is the basis for one of our t-shirt designs.

Benjamin Franklin “See… God Governs” closeup