The Stamp Act Congress was the first unified meeting of the colonies to respond to British policies. Delegates from nine colonies came together to discuss a response to the Stamp Act.
On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, requiring that stamps be purchased and placed on all legal documents and printed materials in the American colonies. To Parliament’s great surprise, outraged Americans responded angrily with legislative protests and street violence.
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”.
From October 7 through October 25, 1765, delegates from 9 of the 13 colonies met in New York to discuss a unified colonial response to the Stamp Act.
The Stamp Act Congress drafted a Declaration of Rights and Grievances on October 19, which stated among other things that
1) only the colonial assemblies had a right to tax the colonies,
2) trial by jury was a right, and the use of Admiralty Courts was abusive
3) colonists possessed all the Rights of Englishmen, and
4) without voting rights, Parliament could not represent the colonists.
The Stamp Act Congress was a significant historical event because it was the first unified meeting of the American colonies to respond to British colonial policies.
Delegates of the Stamp Act Congress
Contrary to popular belief, Samuel Adams did not attend the Stamp Act Congress. He stayed in Massachusetts and tended to matters there.
- William Bayard, Sr.
- John Cruger Jr.
- Leonard Lispenard
- Phillip Livingston
- Robert “The Judge” Livingston
Officers of the Stamp Act Congress
President – Timothy Ruggles
Secretary – John Cotton