Letter from London Merchants
Urging Repeal of the Stamp Act
January 17, 1766

One Penny Stamp

This Letter from London Merchants urging the repeal of the Stamp Act shows how the colonists' non-importation agreements were deeply affecting British merchants. London merchants sent this address to Parliament urging they repeal the Act as soon as possible or many British merchants and manufacturers would face financial ruin. Non-importation agreements were one prong of resistance used by the colonists to pressure Parliament to repeal the unjust taxes of the Stamp Act. Pressure from these merchants, along with violence in the colonies against officials and the testimony of Benjamin Franklin before the House of Commons finally convinced Parliament that going forward with the Stamp Act would be impossible and the Stamp Act was repealed on March 18. Read the Letter from London Merchants urging repeal of the Stamp Act below.

Letter from London Merchants Urging Repeal of the Stamp Act - January 17, 1766

That the petitioners have been long concerned in carrying on the trade between this country and the British colonies on the continent of North America; and that they have annually exported very large quantities of British manufacturers, consisting of woolen goods of all kinds, cottons, linens, hardware, shoes, household furniture, and almost without exception of every other species of goods manufactured in these kingdoms, besides other articles imported from abroad, chiefly purchased with our manufacturers and with the produce of our colonies. By all which, many thousand manufacturers, seamen and laborers have been employed, to the very great and increasing benefit of this nation; and that, in return for these exports, the petitioners have received from the colonies rice, indigo, tobacco, naval stores, oil, whale fins, furs and, lately potash, with other commodities, besides remittances by bills of exchange and bullion obtained by the colonists in payment for articles of the produce not required for the British market and therefore exported to other places.

From the nature of this trade, consisting of British manufacturers exported and of the imported of raw materials form America, many of them used in our manufactures and all of them tending to lessen our dependence on neighboring states, it must be deemed of the highest importance in the commercial system of this nation; and that this commerce, so beneficial to the state and so necessary for the support of multitudes, now lies under such difficulties and discouragement that nothing less than its utter ruin is apprehended without the immediate interposition of parliament. In consequence of the trade between the colonies and the mother country as established and as permitted for many years, and of the experience which the petitioners have had of the readiness of the Americans to make their just remittances to the utmost of the real ability, they have been induced to make and venture such large exportations of British manufacturers as to leave the colonies indebted to the merchants of Great Britain in the sum of several millions sterling.

At this time the colonists, when pressed for payment, appeal to past experience in proof of their willingness; but declare it is not in their power, at present, to make good on their engagements, alleging that the taxes and restrictions laid upon them, and the extensions of the jurisdiction of Vice- Admiralty courts established by some late acts of parliament, particularly by an act passed in the fourth year of His present Majesty for granting certain duties in the British colonies and plantations in America, and by an act passed in the fifth year of His present Majesty for granting and applying certain stamp duties and other duties in the British colonies and plantations in America, with several regulations and restraints, which, if founded in acts of Parliament for defined purposes, are represented to have been extended in such a manner as to disturb legal commerce and harass the fair trader, have so far interrupted the usual and former most fruitful branches of their commerce, restrained the sale of their produce, thrown the state of the several provinces into confusion, and brought on so great a number of actual bankruptcies that the former opportunities and means of remittances and payments are utterly lost and taken from them.

The petitioners are, by these unhappy events, reduced to the necessity of pending ruin; to prevent a multitude of manufacturers from becoming a burden to the community, or else seeking their bread in their countries, to the irretrievable loss of this kingdom; and to preserve the strength of this nation entire, its commerce flourishing, the revenues increasing, our navigation, the bulwark of the kingdom, in a state of growth and extension, and the colonies, from inclination, duty, and interest, firmly attached to the mother country; and therefore praying the consideration of the premises, and entreating such relief as to the House shall seem expedient.

Published 11/17/11

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