Expanded Time-Line of the Stamp Act Crisis




·       May 28, 1754: A bloody skirmish south of modern Pittsburgh, PA, touches off a global war

·       September 8, 1760: Montréal falls, ending North American hostilities

·       February 10, 1763: Treaty of Paris

·       April 16, 1763: Lord Bute (Tory) replaced as Prime Minister by George Grenville (Whig)

·       April 19, 1763: The King's speech at the opening of Parliament goads John Wilkes to produce the infamous Issue #45 of The North Briton

·       April 19, 1763: In New York City, John Tabor Kempe began prosecuting shippers for having traded with the enemy during the war

·       May 7, 1763:  Pontiac leads a Native American attack on Fort Detroit

·       July 9, 1763:  Whitehall deputizes the British Navy to enforce customs regulations—ending the long era of “salutary neglect”

·       July 19, 1763: New York City officially celebrates the end of the French and Indian War

·       July 29, 1763: Waddell Cunningham attacks Thomas Forsey on Wall Street—commencing a legal case that became a cause célèbre

·       July 29, 1763: Surviving soldiers of the Havana campaign are immediately forwarded on to Albany, eventually to fight Pontiac

·       October 7, 1763:  The Proclamation of 1763

·       October 11, 1763: British warships take up station in New York to enforce customs regulations

·       October 19, 1763: John Tabor Kempe vigorously prosecutes three vessels for customs violations

·       November 17, 1763: General Thomas Gage replaces Jeffery Amherst as commander of British forces in North America

·       December 3, 1763: In London, a mob prevents the public burning of The North Briton Issue #45

·       January 19, 1764: John Wilkes expelled from Parliament on grounds of seditious libel

·       January 27, 1764: In anticipation of the Molasses (or “Sugar”) Act, New York merchants meet to draft a petition against it

·       April 5, 1764:  Parliament passes the Molasses Act with little debate; it reduces duties on British (i.e., Jamaican) sugar but imposes prohibitive tariffs on the foreign sugar, coffee, indigo, and wines that constitute much of the colonies’ business

·       April 19, 1764:  Parliament passes the Currency Act, requiring tax payments in specie

·       Summer 1764: HMS Chaleur impresses some Long Island fishermen; a city mob forces their return, and burns one of Chaleur’s service boats

·       September 1764: The New York Assembly appoints a committee to protest the Molasses Act

·       October 1764: The Massachusetts General Court outlaws expensive funerals

·       October 18, 1764: The New York Assembly unites against Gov. Colden to petition against the Molasses Act, asserting not only its impracticality, but its violation of rights

·       October 25, 1764: New York Civil trial against Cunningham awards Forsey £1500

·       November 1, 1764: John Wilkes, having fled to France, is declared an outlaw in Britain

·       November 16, 1764:  Pontiac surrenders to the British

·       January 16, 1765: The bankruptcy of prominent Boston merchant Nathaniel Wheelwright leads to a flood of additional bankruptcies

·       February 6, 1765: Grenville introduces Stamp Act to Parliament; Col. Isaac Barré's speech opposing it coins the reference to Americans as “Sons of Liberty”

·       February 15, 1765: At the second reading of the Stamp Act in the Commons, Parliament refuses to entertain numerous colonial petitions

·       February 27, 1765:  House of Commons “easily” passes the Stamp Act—to become effective November 1, 1765

·       March 22, 1765: With the King’s signature, the Stamp Act becomes law; its regulations are printed on 25 pages

·       April 1765: In Newport, RI, customs officials seize the ship Polly; its cargo is then rescued by the citizens

·       April 29, 1765: News of the passage of the Stamp Act arrives in New York City

·       May 15, 1765:  Parliament passes the Quartering Act

·       May 30, 1765:  Virginia House of Burgesses passes six of Patrick Henry’s seven resolutions against the Stamp Act

·       May 31, 1765: After Henry departs for home, the rump session rescinds the resolutions; however, the text of all seven is widely reprinted

·       June 4, 1765: In Newport, RI, HMS Maidstone impresses the full crew of a Rhode Island ship; a mob of 500 rescues them

·       June 8, 1765:  Prompted by James Otis, the Massachusetts legislature proposes a Stamp Act Congress

·       June 13, 1765: New York radical “Freeman” writes an editorial to justify “the Independency which the Colonies are supposed to aim at”

·       June 24, 1765: Patrick Henry’s resolutions are reprinted in the Newport, RI, Mercury, setting off mass opposition for the first time

·       July 8, 1765: Sensing growing unrest, Gov. Colden requests troops from General Gage; one company is dispatched to the City

·       July 10, 1765: Grenville is dismissed as Prime Minister, not due to widespread objection to the Stamp Act, but because the king found him personally objectionable; another Whig, Rockingham, takes his place

·       July 1765: A New Yorker notes privately that “associations are forming,” in opposition to the Stamp Act, with thousands of subscribers

·       August 14, 1765:  Boston has an orderly riot; it is annually commemorated for years afterward

·       August 15, 1765: Andrew Oliver, not yet even officially appointed, resigns the stamp distributorship of Massachusetts

·       August 26, 1765:  Boston has a disorderly riot, destroying the house of Thomas Hutchinson

·       August 26, 1765:  James McEvers resigns New York commission—in anticipation of social pressures

·       September 2, 1765:  William Coxe resigns New Jersey commission

·       September 2, 1765: Zachariah Hood refuses to resign Maryland commission; a mob destroys his house; he flees to Fort George in New York City

·       September 5, 1765:  New York’s Weekly Post-Boy newspaper proposes November 1 “funeral of Liberty” protest

·       September 7, 1765: Contradicting Gov. Colden, New York’s Council insists Fort George already has enough soldiers

·       September 15, 1765:  Jared Ingersoll, threatened with lynching, resigns his Connecticut commission

·       September 16, 1765:  Philadelphia has a disorderly riot, in which the home of Benjamin Franklin was severely menaced

·       September 21, 1765: The sole issue of (the Liberty Boys’) New York Constitutional Courant justifies Boston’s rioting, defiance; a shocked Gov. Colden tries and fails to locate and arrest the authors and publishers

·       October 7–25, 1765:  Stamp Act Congress held in New York City

·       October 9, 1765: New York learns that the crown has again intervened against a New York jury’s ruling in the Cunningham v. Forsey case

·       October 17, 1765: The Weekly Post-Boy runs a letter of “Publius” urging business to proceed without stamps; the bitter poem, O My Poor Country is also printed

·       October 22, 1765: The commercial ship Edward arrives outside New York harbor, with the stamps

·       October 23, 1765: Two thousand armed New Yorkers prevent landing

·       October 24, 1765: The stamps are landed by the Navy overnight, and secured inside Fort George

·       October 25, 1765: The Stamp Act Congress adjourns, having adopted a “Declaration of Rights”

·       October 31, 1765:  New York’s principal merchants sign America’s first non-importation agreement; retailers and artisans follow suit

·       October 31, 1765:  New York crowds break “thousands” of windows and street lights

·       November 1, 1765:  New York has a mildly disorderly riot, involving the destruction of Gov. Colden’s carriage and sleighs; two thousand people observe his effigy being burnt in Bowling Green

·       November 2, 1765:  Following the bonfire in Bowling Green, a breakaway mob destroys the home of Major Thomas James, and harasses several bawdyhouses

·       November 2, 1765: Gov. Fauquier of Virginia certifies that no stamps are “available” for departing ships

·       November 2, 1765: Colden begs Navy Captain Kennedy to take the stamps out of the fort, onto his warship; Kennedy refuses

·       November 2, 1765: Colden averts immediate resumption of riots by declaring he’ll leave the stamps for Moore’s disposal

·       November 3, 1765: Colden receives a death threat; soldiers work all day to strengthen the fort’s defenses

·       November 3, 1765: The “Sons of Neptune” admonish the  public to ignore “peaceable orators” and to attack the fort on November 5th

·       November 3, 1765: Colden has the Battery cannons spiked to prevent them being turned against the fort

·       November 4, 1765: Colden asks the Council to authorize the use of troops; authorization is denied

·       November 5, 1765: With General Gage’s assent, Colden surrenders the stamps to the city; five thousand people observe the stamps being taken to City Hall

·       After November 5, 1765: After the “General Terror of November 1–4,” Whig merchants and lawyers make a great effort to cool matters down

·       November 12, 1765: Justice Horsmanden announces “that his court cannot comply with the king’s order” in the Cunningham case

·       November 13, 1765: Sir Henry Moore arrives to replace Colden; he defers enforcement of the tax; sends nine additional crates of stamps to City Hall

·       November 15, 1765: (Following a serious storm) the Liberty Boys light a public bonfire in Moore’s honor

·       November 26, 1765:  City radicals call an (unprecedented) open meeting to decide instructions to the city representatives in the assembly; moderates prevail

·       November 27, 1765:  Liberty Boys force the resignation of Peter DeLancey Jr. (grandson of Stephen DeLancey and Cadwallader Colden) from a stamp distributorship; the DeLancey family smoothly finesses this ritual

·       November 28, 1765:  Zachariah Hood, located in Flushing, NY, is forced by two hundred city radicals to publicly resign Maryland’s Stamp distributorship

·       December 2, 1765: James McEvers forced to resign the New York distributorship again—in public

·       December 4, 1765: London’s merchants organize a British campaign against the American Stamp Act

·       December 1765: Captain Kennedy intercepts and forces back New York ships attempting to leave without stamps

·       December 6, 1765: James DeLancey, Jr. makes common cause with the Liberty Boys against the Livingston faction

·       December 1765: Word arrives that the King’s Privy Council has reversed its prior interference in the Cunningham case; jury rights are thus restored

·       December 16, 1765: Gov. Moore assembles city merchants and insists that, though he refuses to issue “letpasses,” he’s not to blame if ships remain stuck in port

·       December 17, 1765: A mob burns effigies of distant (not local) crown officials; no riots follow

·       December 20, 1765: A committee of radicals meets with city lawyers to urge resumption of domestic legal processes without stamps—with mixed results

·       December 21, 1765: Rumor spreads that radicals might riot and destroy the stamps stored in City Hall; it doesn’t happen

·       December 24, 1765: A crowd threatens (but does not attack) Captain Kennedy’s home; violence is possibly averted because ships are now known to be sneaking out of harbor

·       December 27, 1765: A Navy captain is publicly harassed and threatened in New York—but he is not harmed

·       December 31, 1765: In New London, CT, two New York representatives of the Sons of Liberty compact with Connecticut radicals for mutual defense—the first intercolonial step to organize armed resistance

·       January 2, 1766: Bad weather forces Kennedy to bring the navy into port for the winter—ending the (self-imposed) crisis of locked-up ships

·       January 7–8, 1766: A ship arrives with ten packages of stamps for Connecticut; the Liberty Boys capture and burn them

·       January 14, 1766: William Pitt the Elder speaks against the Stamp Act in Parliament, making himself a hero to Americans; however, he recommends declaring Parliament’s right to all non-tax legislation over the colonies

·       Early 1766: Up-river farmers riot against patroons and landlords

·       February 4, 1766: The New York Liberty Boys establish a committee of correspondence; concerned about official retaliation, only Isaac Sears and four other radicals volunteer

·       February 11, 1766: A chastised Benjamin Franklin testifies in Parliament against the Stamp Act, emphasizing potential British losses

·       February 14, 1766: A mob of nearly five thousand forces three recalcitrant businessmen to disavow the use of stamps; one home is forced, but with only minor destruction

·       February 15, 1766: The same individuals are forced to disavow stamps again; homes are threatened again, but again spared

·       February 18, 1766: A Sons of Liberty meeting adds a resolution in favor of inter-colonial pledges of assistance

·       February 21, 1766: The House of Commons passes the Declaratory Act, then votes (265–167 at 2AM) to rescind the Stamp Act

·       February 26, 1766: The Liberty Boys agree (among themselves) that if the Stamp Act is ever enforced, they’ll put all crown officials aboard a ship for England

·       March 6, 1766: The Sons of Liberty parade another Colden effigy, menace Gen. Gage’s headquarters, and publicly burn the effigy

·       March 1766: Rumors circulate that the radicals plan to assault a navy ship and kill an officer who publicly suggested the publisher of the Weekly Post-Boy should be hanged

·       March 18, 1766: King George signs the Declaratory Act and the Stamp Act Repeal, to general rejoicing in London

·       March 23, 1766: The Liberty Boys threaten to pull down the house of a navy officer

·       April 23, 1766: The commercial ship Prince George arrives with goods prohibited by nonimportation agreements; radicals seize the contraband and reship it back to England

·       May 20, 1766: News of the repeal reaches New York City; the town goes “berserk with joy”

·       June 23, 1766: In gratitude, the New York General Assembly commissions an equestrian statue of George III for Bowling Green



The critical fact to understand in regard to the crisis, is that the stamp tax was universally regarded in America as entirely unprecedented, entirely unjust, a betrayal and a harbinger of even greater future oppression. That belief was utterly astounding to its imperial creators—who perhaps suffered from “wisdom spun too fine”—because they saw the tax as perfectly mild, fair, reasonable, and patently necessary.






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