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The American Revolution
British Reforms and Colonial Resistance
Resolutions of Merchants, New York

One of the strategies colonists used to protest the Stamp Act was to stop importing British goods into the colonies. According to the following resolutions, crafted by the merchants of New York City, how was the strategy of non-importation to be put into effect? Based on what you know about the imperial economy and British finances at the time, why might this have been an effective strategy?

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AT a general Meeting of the Merchants of the City of New-York, trading to Great-Britain, at the House of Mr. George Burns, of the said City, Inn-holder, to consider what was necessary to be done in the present Situation of Affairs, with respect to the Stamp Act, and the melancholy State of the North-American Commerce, so greatly restricted by the Impositions and Duties established by the late Acts of Trade: They came to the following Resolutions, viz.

  • First, That in all Orders they send out to Great-Britain, for Goods or Merchandize, of any Nature, Kind of Quality whatsoever, usually imported from Great-Britain, they will direct their Correspondents not to ship them, unless the Stamp Act be repealed: It is nevertheless agreed, that all such Merchants as are Owners of, and have Vessels already gone, and now cleared out for Great-Britain, shall be at Liberty to bring back in them, on their own Accounts, Crates and Casks of Earthen Ware, Grindstones, Pipes, and such other bulky Articles, as Owners usually fill up their Vessels with.
  • Secondly, It is further unanimously agreed, that all Orders already sent Home, shall be countermanded by the very first Conveyance; and the Goods and Merchandize thereby ordered, not to be sent, unless upon the Condition mentioned in the foregoing Resolution.
  • Thirdly, It is further unanimously agreed, that no Merchant will vend any Goods or Merchandize sent upon Commission from Great-Britain, that shall be shipped from thence after the first Day of January next, unless upon the Condition mentioned in the first Resolution.
  • Fourthly, It is further unanimously agreed, that the foregoing Resolutions shall be binding until the same are abrogated at a general Meeting hereafter to be held for that Purpose.

In Witness whereof we have hereunto respectively subscribed our Names.

[This was subscribed by upwards of Two Hundred principal Merchants.]

In Consequence of the foregoing Resolutions, the Retailers of Goods, of the City of New York subscribed a Paper, in the Words following, viz.

We the under-written, Retailers of Goods, do hereby promise and ablige ourselves not to buy any Goods, Wares, or Merchandizes, of any Person or Persons whatsoever, that shall be shipped from Great-Britain, after the first Day of January next; unless the Stamp Act shall be repealed--As Witness our Hands.
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