The Day We Stamped Our Fate for Liberty
Tomorrow marks the 252nd anniversary of a pivotal event in our nation's history.
On March 18th, 1766, the British government repealed the Stamp Act of 1765.
Although this act, the first of many internal taxes levied on the unrepresented colonies, was repealed, it figuratively stamped our fate – leading us to our fight for independence ten years later.
More on that path to independence in a moment.
First, a little backstory.
Why did the Stamp Act of 1765 come about?
The answer is simple – debt. The British had just ended the 7 Years' War with the French. This established their colonial control over North America, but also left them deep in debt.
The monarchy believed that because the colonists benefited the most from being free of French influence, they deserved to bear the economic burden of the war.
The Stamp Act was their solution. The British had levied taxes on imports like sugar, which at least applied to trade. This one required a British stamp on all official documents – wills, deeds, newspapers, pamphlets, even playing cards and dice. Thus, the amount of colonists subject to the tax was greater. The Stamp Act was the first such direct tax on the colonists.
Parliament passed the legislation without debate in 1765. No wonder – none of the colonists were represented.
Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799)
The phrase "Taxation without representation is tyranny," had already become a sentiment of the colonists – its earliest recordings go back to 1761.
However, taxation on trade goods didn't cause the riots that the Stamp Act did.
"Give me liberty, or give me death!" was borne of the Stamp Act. It was delivered by Patrick Henry in a speech to Virginia's colonial leaders in 1775.
As you can already see, the Stamp Act gave roots to the ideas of self-determination and self-reliance this country was founded upon.
Furthermore, the revenues from the Stamp Act went directly to funding a British garrison stationed in the colonies. This fact, spread among the colonies, intensified the desire for independence.
So how did the colonists defeat the Stamp Tax?
First, they organized. They formed the extralegal "Stamp Act Congress," composed of members from 9 colonies in October 1765. They issued petitions to the king.
But many of the colonists took matters into their own hands.
STAMP ACT CARTOON, 1765.
Anti-Stamp Act woodcut from the
'Pennsylvania Journal,' 1765.
In Boston, as a precursor to the Boston Tea Party, the Sons of Liberty paraded through the streets and hanged an effigy of Andrew Oliver, Boston's stamp distributor, and then ransacked his home. Oliver resigned his commission amidst the pressure. Many other stamp distributors resigned in a similar fashion.
Mobs in seaport towns turned away ships carrying stamps from England without allowing them to unload the stamps.
All of these efforts made it impossible for the British to enforce the tax, so they repealed it.
However, it was only a small victory for the colonists.
On the very same day they repealed the Stamp Act, they passed the Declaratory Acts, which proclaimed total legislative power over the colonies.
The Declaratory Acts made clear to the colonists that their institutions of self-government and economy would not be respected unless revenue was shared with the crown.
The path was set for revolution.
Over the course of the next ten years, the issues contended with over the Stamp Act festered until war broke out, and we won our independence.
During that time, our nation's founders fought hard. The reason they were able to? They found something worth fighting for. The result was the ideas we as patriots cherish – liberty, self-reliance and more freedom than man has ever known.
What Those Early Patriots Can Teach Us Now
So how do we apply this story of a flashpoint in history to our lives today?
I can think of three things that are especially poignant to our lifestyle of preparedness and self-reliance.
First, every path has a beginning. Usually, another event acts as a catalyst. These moments help to make it clear what we want, and we decide to devote all our energy and passion into it. The Stamp Act affected nearly all the colonists, so they banded together to do something about it.
Similarly, when we see a huge natural disaster like a hurricane, blizzard, earthquake or wildfire, it moves people to prepare – whether affected or not. We advise against choosing this moment to get prepared – but any opportunity to prepare is a good one. The reason we strongly urge people to use a "sunny day" to get prepared is so that you get the best experience.
When a crisis strikes, the entire emergency preparedness industry is overwhelmed. Many food storage providers run out of stock quick. Others price gouge to diminish demand.
We don't believe in tactics like that. It is our goal to help everyone get prepared – quickly, efficiently and at the best value. We want every preparedness purchase to get care and attention. It can be harder to do so when you have tens of thousands of packages to attend to the day following a crisis. Ordering when the world is relatively calm enables us to give you the most satisfaction – what we aim for with every customer.
Sorry to digress – the important thing to note is that you must remember what started you on your journey. You'll always look back at that moment to keep pushing you further.
The second thing the history around the Stamp Act made me realize is that the path is long and full of wins and defeats. Even after repeal, it would take another 10 years for us to gain our independence. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't seem like that long, but actually living it must've seemed like an eternity. Many gave up. Many became Loyalists. But the majority kept fighting.
The first official U.S. flag flown during battle
was on August 3, 1777, at Fort Schuyler (Fort Stanwix) during the
Siege of Fort Stanwix.
It's also important to note that the colonists had to fight for it. They died for it. This is a reminder of how hard it is to achieve lofty goals. We still must work hard for our goals. But we are lucky to have that work ahead of us, because of the Patriots that came before us.
The third and final lesson - let what you learn along the way form your beliefs and shape your future decisions.
The protest and rebellion that kicked off during the Stamp Act may have seemed like mere mob violence at the time, but it had a purpose. Over the course of the revolution, it became ever more principled, organized and disciplined. The ideas developed during that time still guide us today.
Let the early struggles of your preparedness journey shape you. Learn from them. Develop better systems of self-reliance. Don't get discouraged. Keep going down the path of something bigger and greater.
I am forever grateful for the struggles of our early patriots. I am constantly inspired by their model in my daily life. I hope you can find some inspiration from what I've shared today too.
Have a great weekend, friends! Stay alert out there.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply