The Declaration of Rights (Stamp Act) – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

The Declaration of Rights (Stamp Act)


In 1764, the British Parliament passed the Sugar Act, which placed tariffs
on sugar, coffee, and other goods imported into the New World. These taxes
increased the burden on ordinary citizens at a time of recession in America. It
was thought that the Sugar Act would give rise to open rebellion, but it did

In 1765, the Stamp Act was passed. This act placed a tariff on virtually
every form of printed matter, including newspapers and playing cards. The Stamp
Act by itself may not have been a catalyst to revolution, but combined with the
previous year’s Sugar Act and the subsequent Quartering Act, the effect was to
provoke riots and open rebellion, and a boycott of the stamps that were to be
affixed to the printed matter. British merchants balked at the Act because of
the boycotts, and it was repealed in 1766.

This document is a response to the Stamp Act.


The members of this congress, sincerely devoted, with the
warmest sentiments of affection and duty to his majesty’s person and government,
inviolably attached to the present happy establishment of the protestant
succession, and with minds deeply impressed by a sense of the present and
impending misfortunes of the British colonies on this continent; having
considered, as maturely as time will permit, the circumstances of the said
colonies, esteem it our indispensable duty to make the following declarations of
our humble opinion, respecting the most essential rights and liberties of the
colonists, and of the grievances under which they labour, by reason of several
late acts of parliament.

1. That his majesty’s subjects in these colonies, owe the
same allegiance to the crown of Great Britain, that is owing from his subjects
born within the realm, and all due subordination to that august body the
parliament of Great Britain.

2. That his majesty’s liege subjects in these colonies, are entitled to all
the inherent rights and liberties of his natural born subjects, within the
kingdom of Great Britain.

3. That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the
undoubted right of Englishmen, that no taxes be imposed on them but with their
own consent, given personally, or by their representatives.

4. That the people of these colonies are not, and, from their local
circumstances, cannot be, represented in the House of Commons in Great

5. That the only representatives of the people of these colonies, are persons
chosen therein by themselves; and that no taxes ever have been, or can be
constitutionally imposed on them, but by their respective legislatures.

6. That all supplies to the crown being free gifts of the people, it is
unreasonable and inconsistent with the principles and spirit of the British
constitution, for the people of Great Britain to grant to his majesty the
property of the colonists.

7. That trial by jury, is the inherent and invaluable right of every British
subject in these colonies.

8. That the late act of parliament, entitled, an act for granting and
applying certain stamp duties, and other duties, in the British colonies and
plantations in America, &c., by imposing taxes on the inhabitants of these
colonies, and the said act, and several other acts, by extending the
jurisdiction of the courts of admiralty beyond its ancient limits, have a
manifest tendency to subvert the rights and liberties of the colonists.

9. That the duties imposed by several late acts of parliament, from the
peculiar circumstances of these colonies, will be extremely burdensome and
grievous; and from the scarcity of specie, the payment of them absolutely

10. That as the profits of the trade of these colonies ultimately center in
Great Britain, to pay for the manufactures which they are obliged to take from
thence, they eventually contribute very largely to all supplies granted there to
the crown.

11. That the restrictions imposed by several late acts of parliament on the
trade of these colonies, will render them unable to purchase the manufactures of
Great Britain.

12. That the increase, prosperity and happiness of these colonies, depend on
the full and free enjoyments of their rights and liberties, and an intercourse
with Great Britain mutually affectionate and advantageous.

13. That it is the right of the British subjects in these colonies, to
petition the king, or either house of parliament.

Lastly, That it is the indispensable duty of these
colonies, to the best of sovereigns, to the mother country, and to themselves,
to endeavour by a loyal and dutiful address to his majesty, and humble
applications to both houses of parliament, to procure the repeal of the act for
granting and applying certain stamp duties, of all clauses of any other acts of
parliament, whereby the jurisdiction of the admiralty is extended as aforesaid,
and of the other late acts for the restriction of American commerce.