Key facts and important details about the Stamp Act Congress for kids doing research and students studying for the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam.
The Stamp Act Congress is Also Known As
The Stamp Act Congress is sometimes referred to as The Continental Congress of 1765, the First Congress of the American Colonies, and the Congress at New-York.
Massachusetts Circular Letter Sets Up the Meeting
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 “consult together on the present circumstances of the colonies.”
Date and Location of the Stamp Act Congress
On October 7, 1765, delegates from 9 of the 13 colonies assembled at a meeting in New York, known as the Stamp Act Congress, to discuss the Stamp Act.
The Stamp Act Congress met from October 7 to October 25, 1765. The conference was held at City Hall. John Cruger, Jr. was the May of New York City and hosted the conference.
Colonial Representation at the Stamp Act Congress
The colonies that sent delegates to the meeting were:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
The colonies that did not send delegates were:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
There were 27 delegates that attended the meetings. They were lawyers, businessmen, landowners, and some of them also owned enslaved people. However, some of them, like James Otis, Jr. were abolitionists.
All of the men that attended were members of their respective colonial legislatures.
Founding Fathers at the Stamp Act Congress
Founding Fathers who participated in the Stamp Act Congress were:
- William Samuel Johnson
- Thomas McKean
- Caesar Rodney
- James Otis, Jr.
- Philip Livingston
- John Dickinson
- John Morton
- Christopher Gadsden
Proceedings of the Stamp Act Congress
Proceedings of the Stamp Act Congress were conducted in secret. British officials, including the Royal Governor of New York, Cadwallader Colden, believed the proceedings were illegal.
On October 19, 1765, the Stamp Act Congress adopted a Declaration of Rights and Grievances, which stated, among other things, that:
- Only the colonial assemblies had a right to tax the colonies.
- Trial by jury was a right, and the use of Admiralty Courts was abusive.
- Colonists possessed all the Rights of Englishmen, which were in the English Bill of Rights.
- Without voting rights, Parliament could not represent the colonists.
Effects of the Stamp Act Congress
The Stamp Act Congress was Different than Other Intercolonial Meetings
The Stamp Act Congress was the first unified meeting of the American representatives from the colonial legislatures — called for by the colonies — to respond to British colonial policies.
Before the Stamp Act Congress, there were meetings between representatives from the colonies. However, those meetings were different because they were called for by British officials. One of the prominent intercolonial meetings was the Albany Congress of 1754.
A Slogan for Unification Against British Policy
Christopher Gadsden, one of the delegates from South Carolina, and a Founding Father wrote, “There ought to be no New England man, no New Yorker, etc. known on the Continent, but all of us Americans.”