GW: Life & Times

Slide 5 — Stamping Out the British: Support for a Boycott

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The Repeal - Or the Funeral Procession, of Miss Americ-Stamp, 1766. This cartoon shows the British ministers mourning the repeal of the Stamp Act. Courtesy Francis G. Walett, Patriots, Loyalists & Printers. American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, 1976), 21.

After the French and Indian War ended, England began to levy new taxes on the colonists to pay for the costs of defending them.

During the 1760s, the colonists were charged with such duties as the Stamp Act, which taxed court documents like wills, deeds to land, marriage certificates, the Sugar Act, which taxed molasses, and the Townsend Duties, a tax on items such as paper and glass.

For his part, GW had become increasingly frustrated with the merchant companies in London, with whom he had contracted to sell his tobacco. In many letters, he complained that he was not getting a fair price in the British markets and became increasingly more supportive of taking action against the British policies.

Colonists had succeeded in winning a repeal of the Stamp Act by 1769, and were hoping to accomplish the same with the Townshend Duties. As a representative in the Virginia House of Burgesses, Washington was instrumental in the formation of a "non-importation society" in Virginia, encouraging the residents of the colony to avoid purchasing the taxed items.

While in 1773 he did not openly advocate radical action that the "Indians" took in the Boston Tea Party, it wasn't long before GW wrote of the need for war with Great Britain. In the summer of 1775, Washington was chosen by his fellow members in the Continental Congress to raise and lead an army.


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