“The People Shouted…”

Our forefathers had strong opinions about unjust taxation. In 1765, when Americans were still British subjects, Parliament passed the Stamp Act. It was an attempt to raise revenue by directly taxing paper. Every piece of printed paper was to be taxed, from newspapers, cards, and pamphlets, to almanacs, legal papers and playing cards.  Even dice were taxed.

It did not go over well with the Americans. Tax on colonial trade had been more about regulating commerce, not raising money. But the Stamp Act was a direct attempt to raise money in the colonies, without the approval of the colonial legislatures.  This was not going to happen.

There was a lot of fuming and fussing going on about it, and Sam Adams in Boston certainly did his share. The Stamp Act Master, Andrew Oliver, was born into a life of privilege, and thought little of the “people.” But things changed one day when his effigy was hung, beheaded and burned in Boston. Oliver retreated to the safety of the island of Fort William.

Things began to escalate, so the British Governor ordered the militia to beat the drums and sound the alarm. Problem was, the drummers were out there protesting with the mob. So the Governor also decided to skip town.

As it turned out, the Stamp Master had to promise not to enforce the tax, and resign his post. As Sam Adams later said, “The people shouted; and their shout was heard to the distant end of this Continent.”

Adams and his close associates continued their efforts, expanding their organization into the Sons of Liberty. Parliament was forced to repeal the Act within a year. If it had not, the American Revolution of 1776 probably would have started ten years earlier in 1766.