The Stamp Act Congress

After receiving news of the passage of the Stamp Act, the Massachusetts General Court (the provincial legislature) adopted a circular letter calling on the other colonies to meet in a congress at New York in October to "consider of a general and united, dutiful, loyal and humble Representation of their Condition to His Majesty and the Parliament; and to implore Relief." The consequent Stamp Act Congress brought together delegates from Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina in New York City from October 7 to October 25, 1765 (New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia did not send representatives).

The delegates agreed to a "Declaration of Rights and Grievances," written by Pennsylvania's John Dickinson, that professed allegiance to the Crown and subordination to Parliament in matters of legislation, yet stated that the only constitutional taxes were those imposed by their own assemblies, in which they were properly represented. In doing so, the Congress drew a clear line between Parliament's authority in the regulation of trade "throughout the whole empire," which they accepted, and "the exercise of that jurisdiction by imposing taxes on the colonies," which they did not. The declaration also included their intention to send petitions to the King, Lords, and Commons for relief, which were also drafted by Dickinson.

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