The Stamp Act Resolutions and the Declaratory Act

Words: 848
Topic: History

During the second half of the eighteenth century, the tensions between American colonists and the British government intensified because the Parliament did not want to delegate some of its authorities to the local people who believed that they had been excluded from the political life. Overall, the nature of this conflict can be better explained by discussing such documents as the Stamp Act Resolution and the Declaratory Act.

To a great extent, they illustrate the arguments of the colonists who insisted on the need for proper political representation; nevertheless, they did not want to cut ties with Great Britain. In contrast, the Parliament completely dismissed these claims and emphasized the supremacy of the British government as the main source of law in the colonial territories.

One can say that the failure to resolve this conflict was one of the factors that contributed to the American Revolutionary War. These are the main questions that should be examined in greater detail.

One should note that after the Seven Years’ War, the British Empire passed through a period of financial crisis (Davidson et al., 2008, p. 106). In order to address this problem, the government chose to impose heavier taxes on the colonies. One of such policies was the adoption of the Stamp Act in 1765. According to this law, the colonists were required to use the stamped paper produced in Great Britain (Davidson et al., 2008).

This requirement was related to such printed materials as newspapers or legal documents (Davidson et al., 2008). The colonists believed that they had been burdened with the debts incurred by the government. They could not accept this situation and tried to convince the Parliament that the British Empire had to change its policies in order to improve it relations with American people. Overall, this information is important for understanding the nature of the documents that should be examined more closely.

It is possible to argue that the colonist did not completely dismiss the authority of the British government. The Stamp Act Resolution can throw light on their attitudes. In particular, the authors lay stress on the idea that American people are entitled to the liberties and rights which are given to other British citizens.

Therefore, they argue that “no taxes be imposed on them but with their own consent, given personally or by their representatives” (Resolutions of the Continental Congress, 1765).

Additionally, they believe that the laws imposed on the colonies can be properly developed only by the representatives of the local people who better understand what kind of problems should be addressed by the state. In their opinion, by advocating the liberties of the local people, the government can promote the prosperity for the colonies and increase their loyalty to Great Britain (Resolutions of the Continental Congress, 1765).

These are the main points that can be identified. This document suggests that at the beginning, the American colonists did not want to sever ties with the British Empire. They perceived themselves as the “subjects” of the king (Resolutions of the Continental Congress, 1765). Certainly, they were willing to protect their rights which were given to the subjects of the crown, but at the same time, they could reach a compromise with the government. This is one of the aspects that can be singled out.

In turn, the excerpts from the Declaratory Act suggest that the Parliament did not wish to consider the arguments put forward by the colonists. In particular, the British legislators argue that the statements like the Stamp Act Resolutions were illegal.

In particular, according to the Declaratory Act, the resolutions drafted by the colonists are “derogatory to the legislative authority of parliament, and inconsistent with the dependency of said colonies and plantations upon the crown of Great Britain” (The Declaratory Act, 1766). They did not wish to gain the support of the local people because they believed that the rule of the British Empire could not be questioned.

Apart from that, according to this law, American people must be governed by the laws adopted by the Parliament (The Declaratory Act, 1766). In other words, English policy-makers do not want to consider the idea that American colonists can eventually confront the authority of the crown.

Furthermore, the delegation of political power to the local people does not seem to be a viable option for them. On the whole, the analysis of these documents suggests that the English legislators did not try to place themselves in the position of the colonists who did not want to be marginalized by the state. This is the main conflict that was not resolved in a peaceful way.

These two documents illustrate the differences in the views of colonists and the government. American people wanted English legislators to share some of their authority. In their opinion, the complete dependence of colonies could not reflect the interests of the local people. In turn, the political representation of the colonies could be critical for improving the life of American people. In contrast, this requirement was completely inadmissible to the Parliament. These are the main issues that can be distinguished.

Reference List

Davidson, J., Delay, B., Heyrman, C., Lytle, M., & Stoff, M. (2008). US: A Narrative History, Volume 1: To 1877. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Resolutions of the Continental Congress. (1765).

The Declaratory Act. (1766).