Every Stamp Tells a Story

1765-1776: Revolutionary Milestones

1765 Stamp Act

In 1765 the British Parliament passed an act commonly called The Stamp Act that infuriated American colonists. Resisting the Act was the first incremental step on the road to the American Revolution. Cries of “taxation without representation” and attacks on stamp agents led to the repeal of the Act on March 18, 1766.

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1p Stamp Act of 1765 proof.

This stamp is one of 32 surviving red proofs of the 1765 Stamp Act. The letter to John Hancock was handstamped in New York on July 4, 1776—the birthday of the United States of America.

American Colonists Revolt

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July 4, 1776, John Hancock cover. Gift from George Jay Kramer.

In 1775 the Revolutionary War began. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. On that same day, lawyer William Bant sent this letter to the first signer—John Hancock.

John Hancock’s Defiance
John Hancock’s Defiance. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

The first person to sign the Declaration of Independence was John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress.