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Collection Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774 to 1789

1764 to 1765

  • 1764

    Sugar Act. Parliament, desiring revenue from its North American colonies, passed the first law specifically aimed at raising colonial money for the Crown. The act increased duties on non-British goods shipped to the colonies.

    Currency Act. This act prohibited American colonies from issuing their own currency, angering many American colonists.

    Beginnings of Colonial Opposition. American colonists responded to the Sugar Act and the Currency Act with protest. In Massachusetts, participants in a town meeting cried out against taxation without proper representation in Parliament, and suggested some form of united protest throughout the colonies. By the end of the year, many colonies were practicing nonimportation, a refusal to use imported English goods.

  • 1765

    Quartering Act. The British further angered American colonists with the Quartering Act, which required the colonies to provide barracks and supplies to British troops.

    Stamp Act. Parliament's first direct tax on the American colonies, this act, like those passed in 1764, was enacted to raise money for Britain. It taxed newspapers, almanacs, pamphlets, broadsides, legal documents, dice, and playing cards. Issued by Britain, the stamps were affixed to documents or packages to show that the tax had been paid.

    Organized Colonial Protest. American colonists responded to Parliament's acts with organized protest. Throughout the colonies, a network of secret organizations known as the Sons of Liberty was created, aimed at intimidating the stamp agents who collected Parliament's taxes. Before the Stamp Act could even take effect, all the appointed stamp agents in the colonies had resigned. The Massachusetts Assembly suggested a meeting of all the colonies to work for the repeal of the Stamp Act. All but four colonies were represented. The Stamp Act Congress passed a "Declaration of Rights and Grievances," which claimed that American colonists were equal to all other British citizens, protested taxation without representation, and stated that, without colonial representation in Parliament, Parliament could not tax colonists. In addition, the colonists increased their nonimportation efforts.

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