Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Causes of the American Revolution: Part 2 – The Stamp Act

In the annals of American taxation, certain taxes have had tremendous impact.

I include the federal income tax, the poll tax, and my nominee, the Stamp Act tax, March 22, 1765.

Britain was still trying to get its American colonies to pay a share of the huge deficit from the French and Indian War. The British decided to level a small, but very broad tax on all commercial uses of paper in its colonies, such as documents, or official correspondence – a category that would apply this levy to most of the general population. The tax was modest, to be used for America’s defense, whatever that was. Defense against whom?

The tax would be collected by American agents, with an unpopular job, which they quickly found out. Collection rates were poor.

On the surface, the Stamp Act did not seem too unreasonable. But the colonies immediately smelled danger and opposition quickly intensified. This included a widespread boycott of British goods, causing great alarm in Britain at home. The colonies felt their basic liberties were threatened; no taxes could be levied except by their own representatives. Every other attempt was illegal.

The Stamp Act tax was repealed in 1766, an amazing development. But the euphoria did not last long. New taxes were levied, including on tea. This commodity achieved its own notoriety a few years later. Everything was right back where it had started.

Shortly after independence, Congress faced the unpleasant truth: it had to raise revenue.

Through taxes. Nothing has changed.

These could be levied on the rich, the living, the dead, property and profits, goods and services, the list today is endless.

Remember in Gone with the Wind, how was Scarlett going to pay Tara’s land taxes?

It’s April 15th. – Renata Breisacher Mulry

2 comments:

KBM said...

Yes, it certainly made a difference that the Stamp Act was hitting everybody's pocketbook. I wish more people paid that much attention today.

jrod2448 said...

It seems like we are headed in that same direction as we did before, as in 1766,to many taxes TO MANY ! The last straw,what will that be ? I still love this great country of ours and all that love LIBERTY !God Bless America !