Thursday, July 11, 2024

The Stamp Act Protests in Savannah - Part I

1760s Christian Camphor House
by Denise Weimer

My post last month set the scene of Savannah in the 1760s, poised for revolution. The fuse for rebellion was lit in the decade before a shot was ever fired with a series of increasingly repressive acts levying taxes for Britain.

Designed to offset the cost of the French and Indian War, the April 1764 Sugar Act taxed molasses imported from any country outside the British Empire. Molasses was used in the distilling of rum, a huge industry in the colonies.

The September 1764 Currency Act aimed to pay for stationing ten thousand troops in America. Many of these helped protect the frontiers at the request of the governors. The act forbade the printing of paper money in the colonies and issued a “call in” date for old bills, many of which were not equalized throughout the colonies. With items from England costing more and little hard currency in circulation, inflation ensued.

The crowning grievance lay in the March 1765 Stamp Act, which was considered unfair because it was an internal tax not having to do with business outside the colonies. It required an imprint on official papers or a small blue paper affixed with tin foil to a document, including bills, calendars, warrants, deeds, court documents, commercial papers, degrees, newspapers, pamphlets, ads, almanacs, indentures, appointments, and even cards and dice. Anyone breaking the Stamp Act would be tried in admiralty court in Nova Scotia. Colonists objected to not having a local trial by their peers and because English parliament, not the local upper and lower houses, had set the tax.

Parliament swiftly followed in May 1765 with the Quartering Act requiring provincial assemblies to victual and billet British soldiers in barracks, inns, or uninhabited buildings. Most colonists felt capable of defending their own frontiers and resented the large standing army that remained after the French and Indian War, partly to satisfy the sons of noble families with commissions.

As early as February of 1765, Prime Minister Grenville met with Benjamin Franklin and other representatives of the colonies to discuss objections to the Stamp Act. Little headway was made. Isac BarrĂ©, an Irish politician who had served in the colonies during the French and Indian War, took up the cause of the patriots and coined the term “sons of liberty.”

Sons of Liberty flag
Soon, colonists were forming Sons and Daughters of Liberty groups. They developed their own flag to represent the nine colonies which attended a Stamp Act Congress held in New York during the month of October. The Georgia governor refused to call the assembly into session prior, preventing the state from sending delegates. However, the Commons House sent a supportive letter and a recorder to take notes.

Next month, we’ll look at the chaos that ensued in Savannah following the Stamp Act Congress.

A Conflicted Betrothal
, Book Four of the Scouts of the Georgia Frontier, When Savannah erupts into protests following the passage of the Stamp Act, Georgia Royal Ranger Ansel Anderson is summoned from his frontier post to provide intelligence to his father’s friend, a Loyalist judge. To obtain the land grant he needs, he’s also to court the man’s daughter, an ardent Patriot. Patience Scott has no intention of letting herself fall for a sworn King’s Man…until anonymous letters threatening those loyal to the governor corner her into agreeing to a betrothal. Will their attraction survive their conflicting loyalties?

Denise Weimer writes historical and contemporary romance from her home in North Georgia and also serves as a freelance editor and the Acquisitions & Editorial Liaison for Wild Heart Books. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the post today. It's good to be reminded of our beginnings as a country.