The Stamp Act, composed by the Exchequer George Grenville and presented to Parliament in February 1765, was passed by that body almost without debate. It was perhaps the most important effort to tax the colonies and was a major impetus toward the Revolution. By the time the Act took effect, opposition was so great that resolutions of protest were passed in the lower houses of some colonial legislatures, and a special Congress was convened in New York which declared that the Act had "a manifest tendency to subvert the rights and liberties of the colonists." It provided for a heavy tax on all legal pleas, deeds, diplomas, as well as newspapers and almanacs, giving the Admiralty Courts jurisdiction over violations of the Act.
The present manuscript shows some significant differences from the published text. It does not contain the preamble and enumeration of duties (most likely the last matters decided upon); it does not contain Clauses VII-X, LIV, LVI, and a section of LVII; it omits references to Quakers in Clauses XII, XXVIII, and X; it omits a long passage in Clause XIV concerning frauds by clerks, officers and other persons; dates of implementation of the act have been left blank to be filled in.
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