By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise. — Adolf Hitler

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Anger of the Colonies

Most Americans were not ready to take things so quietly as Franklin. Indeed, as soon as the news of the Stamp Act became known, there was great excitement. Bells were tolled, and every one looked sad. In Virginia, Patrick Henry arose in the House of Burgesses, and made a fiery speech which convinced the people that it would be wrong and cowardly to yield. In his speech he said that tyranny must be resisted, and added: "Caesar had his Brutus, Charles I. his Cromwell, and George III.—"

"Treason! Treason!" cried some of the members who were friends of the king.

But Patrick Henry went firmly on, "—may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it!"

Patrick Henry's speech

His speech fairly carried the people away, and when he concluded it by saying: "Give me liberty, or give me death," the Virginians drew up a set of resolutions saying that they had the same rights as the people in Great Britain, that they could be taxed only by their assemblies, and that they would not allow any one else to tax them.

In North Carolina, John Ashe said: "This law will be resisted in blood and death." This opinion was so general that Massachusetts suggested that a general "Stamp Act Congress "should be held in New York, in 1765. All but four colonies were, represented in it, and six of them drew up a paper saying that as British subjects they could be taxed only by their own consent, and that as they had no members in Parliament, they would not obey that body.

This paper was called the "Declaration of Rights," and they added to it another, saying that there were five things they had to complain about. These were: being taxed without their consent; being tried in some cases without a jury; being hampered in their trading; and being asked to pay the sugar tax and the stamp tax.

Men everywhere began thinking how they could keep their rights, and formed companies called "Sons of Liberty." These bands visited the men chosen to sell the stamped paper, and sternly warned them not to try to do so unless they wished to be treated like traitors. The result was that, so far as is now known, not a single sheet of stamped paper was ever sold in America. Indeed, when the day came when they were to have been first used, a Pennsylvania newspaper appeared with the heading, "No stamped paper to be had."

The excitement was such that even the children marched up and down like their elders, crying, "Liberty, Property, and No Stamps!" or even such hard words as "Taxation without representation is tyranny."

As we have already seen, there were many people in Great Britain who thought the Stamp Act unjust. Two great men, Burke and Pitt, openly said so; and when the news came that the Americans refused to obey, the latter exclaimed: "I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of all the rest."

The British minister, Grenville, now sent for Franklin, and asked whether he thought the Americans would pay the stamp tax if it were less. But Franklin said: "No; never! They will never submit to it;" and went on to explain that it was not a question of more or less money, but a question of right and wrong.

As the Americans declared they would not buy a single thing from the British until their rights were respected, British vessels soon went home with unsold cargoes, and British merchants loudly cried that their business was ruined. These complaints, added to the colonists' determined resistance, made Parliament repeal, or call back, the Stamp Act, six months after it was to be enforced.

The stamps which were never used were stored away in a room in the House of Parliament. Here they lay forgotten for many a year, and when they were finally unearthed again, they were either given away as curiosities or destroyed.

The news of the repeal of the Stamp Act set the Americans almost crazy with joy. Bells were rung, bonfires lighted, and speeches made. In New York the people were so happy that they erected a new liberty pole, and made a big leaden statue of King George, which they set up on Bowling Green.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell