Henry Ward


Henry Ward was a politician from Rhode Island. He was a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and served many years as the Secretary of State of the Rhode Island government.

Early Life

  • Ward was born in 1732.
  • His father was Richard Ward, and his mother was Mary Tillinghast.
  • From1740 to 1743, his father served as Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island.
  • His brother, Samuel Ward, was Governor of Rhode Island and represented Rhode Island at the First Continental Congress and Second Continental Congress.

Political Career

  • From 1761 to 1797, Ward served as the Secretary of State of the Rhode Island government.
  • In 1765, he represented Rhode Island at the Stamp Act Congress.

Delegate to the Stamp Act Congress

On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a stamp to be placed on all legal documents and many printed materials in the colonies.

In May, news of the new law reached the colonies. There was immediate opposition, including riots in Boston, Massachusetts, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Savannah, Georgia.

On June 8, 1765, the Massachusetts Assembly sent a circular letter to the legislatures of the other colonies, inviting them to send delegates to a congress in New York to discuss a unified response to the Stamp Act. The precedent for such a meeting had been set by the Albany Congress in 1754.

Nine of the 13 colonies, including Rhode Island, chose to send delegates to the meeting, which was held in New York City. Ward was elected as a delegate from Rhode Island, along with Metcalf Bowler.

The Stamp Act Congress convened on October 7, 1765. On October 19, the Stamp Act Congress issued a Declaration of Rights and Grievances. Congress sent petitions to the King and both houses of Parliament and asked for the Stamp Act to be repealed.

Ward signed his name to the official documents of the Stamp Act Congress.

On November 1, 1765, the Stamp Act took effect, but there were no stamp masters available to distribute the stamps. They had resigned or refused to perform their job due to violence and intimidation against them.

On March 18, 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, primarily due to protest from British merchants who believed it would damage their prospects of doing business in the colonies. However, on that same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, which declared it had the “full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.”

Letter to George Washington

On July 1, 1775, Ward sent a letter to General George Washington. The letter informed Washington that Rhode Island was transferring the Rhode Island Army to his command.


Henry Ward is significant because he was a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765.