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The Stamp Act Protests

Read these notes before you read the Act:

  1. The text below is highly condensed and extracted. The original Stamp Act would take up 21 typewritten pages, single spaced and in the standard print.
  2. Vellum and parchment are expensive printing materials made from animal skins (sheep, lamb, or calf). They were more lasting then ordinary paper and were generally used for important documents, like royal proclamations and college diplomas. This is why college diplomas are often referred to as “sheepskins,” even though they are no longer printed on this material.

The Stamp Act [condensed]

In Parliament March 19, 1765

An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties, in the British colonies and plantations in America, towards further defraying the expences of defending, protecting, and securing the same; and for amending such parts of the several acts of parliament relating to the trade and revenues of the said colonies and plantations, as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned.

For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be ingrossed, written or printed, any declaration, plea, replication, rejoinder, demurrer, or other pleading, or any copy thereof, in any court of law within the British colonies and plantations in America.

... any special bail and appearance upon such.
... any petition, bill, answer, claim, plea, replication, rejoinder, demurrer, or other pleading in any court of chancery or equity [civil court].
For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall

... any libel, answer, allegation, inventory, or renunciation in ecclesiastical matters in any court of probate, court of the ordinary.
... any copy of any will (other than the probate thereof).
... any register, entry, testimonial, or certificate of any degree taken in any university, academy, college, or seminary of learning.
...any pleading, in any admiralty court [courts regulating trade].
... any writ of covenant for levying of fines.

... any judgment, decree, sentence, or dismission, or any record of Nisi Prius or Postea, in any court within the said colonies and plantations, a stamp duty of four shillings.
... any affidavit, common bail or appearance, interrogatory deposition, rule, order, or warrant of any court.
... any licence, appointment, or admission of any counsellor, solicitor, attorney, advocate, or proctor, to practice in any court, or of any notary.
... any note or bill of lading [shipping manifest], which shall be signed for any kind of goods, wares, or merchandize, to be exported.
... any grant, appointment, or admission of or to any publick beneficial office or (except commissions and appointments of officers of the army, navy, ordnance, or militia, of judges, and of justices of the peace).
... any licence for retailing of spirituous liquors.
... any licence for retailing wine.
... any probate of a will, letters of administration, or of guardianship for any estate above the value of twenty pounds sterling money.
... any bond for securing the payment of any sum of money [a sliding scale based on the amount of money].

... any deed or other instrument whatsoever, by which any quantity of land be granted, conveyed, or assigned [a sliding scale based on the size of the parcel].

... any indenture [labor contract], lease, conveyance, contract, stipulation, bill of sale, charter party, protest, articles of apprenticeship, or covenant.
... any passport, or let-pass, surrender of officer, or policy of assurance.

... any notarial act, bond, deed, letter, of attorney, procuration, mortgage, release, or other obligatory instrument.
... every pack of playing cards, and all dice.

... any pamphlet, and upon every news paper, containing publick news, intelligence, or occurrences, which shall be printed, dispersed, and made publick, within any of the said colonies and plantations.
... every advertisement to be contained in any gazette, news paper, or other paper, or any pamphlet.
... every almanack or calendar.

... every deed, instrument, note, memorandum, letter, or other instrument or writing, for or relating to the payment of any sum of money, or for making any valuable consideration for or upon the loss of any ship, vessel, goods, wages, money, effects, or upon any loss by fire, or for any other loss whatsoever.

... every deed, instrument, note, memorandum, letter, or other minument or writing, between the captain or master or owner of any ship or vessel, and any merchant, trader, or other person, in respect to the freight or conveyance of any money, goods, wares, merchandizes, or effects, laden or to be laden on board of any such ship or vessel.

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