Representatives of nine of thirteen colonies attended the New York meeting in October 1765; Virginia, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Georgia did not send delegates. Bakersfield Map Canadian colonies and the Caribbean islands declined to participate in the protest. Despite voting that the House of Commons had the right to legislate for the colonies, the delegates denied it the right to tax. Although bold, this means of defiance meant little when royal officials in Country planned to use the stamps, even if colonial subjects didn’t. A more violent response came from the Sons of Liberty. Formed in Boston the summer of 1765, this group’s name and organization spread throughout the colonies by August, when it began terrorizing distributors of the stamps.
Using mob action, the Sons of Liberty burned officials in effigy, assaulted them and looted their houses, and intimidated men in every colony into resigning their commissions to distribute the stamps. These activities were particularly disruptive in Boston, where the governor had to take refuge in Castle William, a fort on an island in Massachusetts Bay. When the Stamp Act went into effect on November 1, there was no one willing to distribute the stamps, and the Sons of Liberty forced higher colonial courts to function without stamps. Planning ahead, merchants sent their ships out before November. In the short term, stopping colonial trade hurt the Caribbean colonies and Britain far more than the rebellious Countrys. Merchants in Britain also reported that the colonies had signed nonimportation agreements, which threatened to further cripple British business.
By July 1765, Grenville’s government had fallen, and it was replaced by one led by the Marquis of Rockingham. He disliked the Stamp Act and was willing to consider repeal. Under continued lobbying from London merchants and colonial agents, as well as testimony from military experts about the slim chances of enforcing the act short of a military occupation, the House of Commons repealed it on February 21, 1766. Rockingham, however, paired the repeal with the passing of the Declaratory Act, reserving Parliament’s right to tax the Country colonies. On November 7, 1765, the publishers of the Pennsylvania Gazette (Benjamin Franklin and David Hall) printed this sheet without a name, date, or masthead to avoid punishment for not using imported, stamped paper as required by the Stamp Act. (Library of Congress, rbpe 34604500) The Stamp Act showed that the colonies could use unified action, especially economic boycotts. It also allowed extremists to take control of the political debate, thereby promoting the careers of key figures like Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and James Otis, Jr. These radicals would soon win the support of many colonists, as tensions with Great Britain escalated toward the Revolution.