Patrick Henry’s Stamp Act Resolutions

On May 29, 1765, Patrick Henry offered five resolutions on the floor of the Virginia House of Burgesses in response to the much-reviled Stamp Act, which had followed on the heels of the nearly as-reviled Sugar Act. The Resolutions were adopted in Virginia, then quickly found their way into the political vernacular of a number of other colonies, giving rise to what would become the colonists’ rallying cry: no taxation without representation.

Henry had seven resolutions. Five passed on May 30, and he pocketed the last two after the heated debate over the fifth. After Henry left town, the House of Burgesses expunged the fifth Resolve on the 31st. It only remains with us because it was found in an envelope alongside Henry’s will.

As we all know, a Revolution ensued. Over taxation without representation.

So how much were the colonists paying at the time? 1-1.5 percent.

1-1.5 percent

It turns out that taxation with representation is nothing to write home about, either.

The Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions

Resolved, that the first Adventurers and Settlers of His Majesty’s Colony and Dominion brought with them and transmitted to their Posterity, and all other His Majesty’s Subjects since inhabiting in this his Majestie’s said Colony, all the Privileges, Franchises, and Immunities that have at any Time been held, enjoyed, and possessed by the People of Great Britain.

Resolved, that by two royal charters, granted by King James the first, the Colonists aforesaid are declared intituled to all the Privileges, Liberties & Immunities of Denizens and natural-born Subjects to all Intents and Purposes as if they had been abiding and born within the Realm of England.

Resolved, that the Taxation of the People by themselves, or by Persons chosen by themselves to represent them, who can only know what Taxes the People are able to bear and the easiest method of raising them, and are equally affected by such Taxes themselves is the distinguishing Characteristick of British Freedom and without which the ancient Constitution cannot subsist.

Resolved, that His Majesty’s liege People of this most ancient Colony have uninteruptedly enjoyed the Right of being thus governed by their own assembly in the article of their Taxes and internal Police, and that the same hath never been forfeited or any other way given up but hath been constantly recognized by the Kings and People of Great Britain.

Resolved, therefore that the General Assembly of this Colony have the only and sole executive Right & Power to lay Taxes & Impositions upon the Inhabitants of this Colony and that every Attempt to vest such Power in any person or Persons whatsoever other than the General Assembly Aforesaid has a manifest Tendency to destroy British as well as American Freedom. (ultimately not adopted.)

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