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Which items were taxed under the Stamp Act?

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Quick Answer

The 1765 Stamp Act imposed a tax on every printed piece of paper the American colonists used for business transactions or legal documents, including newspapers, pamphlets, bills, licenses and even playing cards, according to The History Place. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation explains that the act imposed the first tax on the colonies explicitly used to raise money for the British crown, thereby setting a dangerous and unwelcome precedent.

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Full Answer

Passed by the British Parliament on March 22, 1765, and taking effect November 1, 1765, this tax was imposed by England on the colonies without the permission of the colonial legislature. Intended to fund British military operations in the colonies, The History Place explains that the Stamp Act caused hardship to the colonies' professional people, such as lawyers, merchants, publishers and land owners, who all rose up against it. As a result, Patrick Henry, a member of Virginia's House of Burgesses, brought resolutions against the Act up for a vote, stating that only Virginia's legislature could impose taxes on Virginians and famously saying, "If this be treason, make the most of it." Among the harsh realities imposed on the colonists by the Act, the penalty for counterfeiting a stamp was death, says Land of the Brave.

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