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The American Revolution
British Reforms and Colonial Resistance
Essex County, New Jersey, Resolution

The many different groups in the colonies that opposed the Stamp Act developed detailed legal positions on the issues involved. The colonists of Essex County were acting on an old right of English subjects to petition their monarch for redress of grievances; thus, the first resolution proclaims loyalty to the Crown. Also keep in mind that the English constitution was an unwritten set of traditions, acts of Parliament, and royal proclamations that, because they were not written down, were subject to much interpretive debate. In the following resolutions, what arguments do the citizens of Essex County make against the Stamp Act? What courses of action do they choose to resist the Stamp Act?

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At a general meeting of the Freemen, inhabitants of the county of Essex, in New-Jersey, at the free Borough of Elizabeth, on the 25th day of October, in the year of our Lord 1765, being the anniversary of the happy accession of his present Majesty King George the Third, to the crown of Great-Britain, &c. upon which occasion the said freemen unanimously, and with one voice declared,

  • First. That they have at all times heretofore, and ever would bear true allegiance to his Majesty King George the Third, and his royal predecessors, and wished to be governed agreeable to the laws of the land, and the British constitution, to which they ever had, and for ever most chearfully would submit.
  • Secondly. That the stamp act, prepared for the British colonies in America, in their opinion, is unconstitutional; and should the same take place, agreeable to the tenor of it, would be a manifest destruction and overthrow of their long enjoyed, boasted and invaluable liberties and privileges.
  • Thirdly. That they will, by all lawful ways and means, endeavour to preserve and transmit to posterity, their liberty and property, in as full and ample manner as they received the same from their ancestors.
  • Fourthly. That they will discountenance and discourage, by all lawful measures, the execution and effect of the stamp act.
  • Fifthly. That they will detest, abbor, and hold in the utmost contempt, all and every person or persons, who shall meanly accept of any employment or office, relating to the stamp act, or shall take any shelter or advantage from the same; and all and every stamp pimp, informer, favourer and encourager of the execution of the said act; and that they will have no communication with any such person, nor speak to them on any occasion, unless it be to inform them of their vileness.

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