The Stamp Act Congress, or First Congress of the American Colonies, was a meeting held between October 7 and 25, 1765 in New York City, consisting of representatives from some of the British colonies in North America; it was the first gathering of elected representatives from several of the American colonies to devise a unified protest against new British taxation. Parliament had passed the Stamp Act, which required the use of specially stamped paper for virtually all business in the colonies, and was coming into effect November 1.
The Congress was organized in response to a circular letter distributed by the colonial legislature of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and consisted of delegates from nine of the 18 British colonies in North America. All nine of the attending delegations were from the Thirteen Colonies that eventually formed the United States of America. Although sentiment was strong in some of the other colonies to participate in the Congress, a number of royal governors took steps to prevent the colonial legislatures from meeting to select delegates.
The Congress met in the building now known as Federal Hall, and was held at a time of widespread protests in the colonies, some of which were violent, against the Stamp Act's implementation. The delegates discussed and united against the act, issuing a Declaration of Rights and Grievances in which they claimed that Parliament did not have the right to impose the tax because it did not include any representation from the colonies. Members of six of the nine delegations signed petitions addressed to Parliament and King George III objecting to the Act's provisions.
The extra-legal nature of the Congress caused alarm in Britain, but any discussion of the congress's propriety were overtaken by economic protests from British merchants whose business with the colonies suffered as a consequence of the protests and their associated non-importation of British products. These economic issues prompted the British Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act, but it passed the Declaratory Act the same day, to express its opinion on the basic constitutional issues raised by the colonists; it stated that Parliament could make laws binding the American colonies "in all cases whatsoever."
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