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Lesson One

Reading 2

Pennsylvania Resolves

Colonial legislatures passed resolutions protesting the passage of the Stamp Act. On September 21, 1765, the Pennsylvania Assembly passed the following resolves:

The House taking into Consideration, that an Act of Parliament has lately passed in England, for imposing certain Stamp Duties, and other Duties, on his Majesty’s Subjects in America, whereby they conceive some of their most essential and valuable Rights, as British Subjects, to be deeply affected, think it a Duty they owe to themselves, and their Posterity, to come to the following Resolutions, viz.

Resolved, That the Assemblies of this Province have, from Time to Time, whenever Requisitions have been made by his Majesty, for carrying on military Operations, for the Defence of America, most cheerfully and liberally contributed their full Proportion of Men and Money for those Services.

Resolved,That whenever his majesty’s Service shall, for the future, require the Aids of the Inhabitants of this Province, and they shall be called upon for that Purpose in a constitutional Way, it will be their indispensable Duty most cheerfully and liberally to grant to his Majesty their Proportion of Men and Money for the Defence, Security, and other public Services of the British American Colonies.

Resolved, That the inhabitants of this Province are entitled to all the Liberties, Rights and Privileges of his Majesty’s Subjects in Great-Britain, or elsewhere, and that the Constitution of Government in this Province is founded on the natural Rights of Mankind, and the noble Principles of English Liberty, and therefore is, or ought to be, perfectly free.

Resolved, That it is the inherent Birth-right, and indubitable Privilege, of every British Subject, to be taxed only by his own Consent, or that of his legal Representatives . . . .

Resolved, That this House think it their Duty thus firmly to assert, with Modesty and Decency, their inherent Rights, that their Posterity may learn and know, that it was not with their Consent and Acquiescence, that any Taxes should be levied on them by any persons but their own Representatives; and are desirous that these their Resolves should remain . . . , as a Testimony of the Zeal and ardent Desire of the present House of Assembly to preserve their inestimable Rights, which, as Englishmen, they have possessed ever since this Province was settled, and to transmit them to their latest Posterity.

Source: Edmund S. Morgan, ed., Prologue to Revolution: Sources and Documents on the Stamp Act Crisis, 1764-1766 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1973), pp. 51–52.

Questions

  • 1.

    What are the grievances expressed in the document?

  • 2.

    What arguments are included in the Pennsylvania Resolves to convince Parliament that the

Stamp Act is unconstitutional?

3. What is the tone of the document?

15

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