Road to Revolution for Kids - 1765 The Stamp Act Illustration

Road to Revolution for Kids - The Stamp Act


The government of Great Britain, Parliament, still needed money to pay off the cost of the Seven Years War, known in the colonies as the French and Indian War. They believed the colonists should help pay this cost since much of the fighting was done to defend them.

The Sugar Act had not generated enough money, so in 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act. While the Sugar Act did not cause too much concern other than in New England, the Stamp Act brought about huge protests.

The Stamp Act was different. The Stamp Act required colonists to buy and place stamps on paper goods such as newspapers, diplomas, contracts, prayer books, marriage licenses, and other legal documents. Laborers, craftsmen, farmers, lawyers, merchants, and basically everyone had to pay this tax. Lawyers and publishers were the hardest hit. People could not afford to both pay a lawyer and the tax. Many could not afford to buy books, not even prayer books.

This act was extremely unpopular in the colonies. It gave colonial leaders a chance to convince the colonists that they were being taxed unfairly because the colonists had no voice in government - no taxation without representation!  That phrase was coined by the Sons of Liberty and it caught on.

Up until then, each colony had its own system of taxation and its own way of collecting that tax. The British government levied the Stamp Act on the colonists with total disregard to any colonial government or to the needs of the colonists themselves. The British government wanted money and they felt the colonists should pay because they said so.

Stamp Act Congress: As the uproar against the Stamp Act grew, colonial leaders created a special congress - a Stamp Act Congress. Individual colonies sent delegates to New York City to attend a meeting of this special congress.

The delegates drew up a petition protesting the Stamp Act, giving their reasons, and demanding this law be repealed. They sent this petition, with Ben Franklin, to Parliament back in England.

This was very important. It clearly demonstrated that the colonies could and would speak with one voice.

Ben Franklin convinced British Parliament to rescind (remove, repeal, delete) the Stamp Act.

Things might have ended there. But British Parliament still needed money.

No taxation without representation! (Liberty Kids, cartoon video)

The Sons of Liberty

Sugar Act (1764)

Vocabulary words: rescind, delegates, petition, protests

What came before the Stamp Act: The French and Indian War

What came after the Stamp Act: The Townshend Acts, 1767