This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 and the populace presently took a hand. Before the summer was over Howard, after being hanged and burned in effigy at Newport, fled to England, and the “rights of the colonies” were both “asserted and proved.” No substitute for the stamp tax having been agreed upon by the colonial assemblies, the Stamp Act became a law (March, 1765). In the interval between the approval of the act and the date (I November) at which it was to go into effect, disorderly bodies calling themselves “Sons of liberty” organized a campaign of forcible resistance; with the result that, when the first of November arrived, stamps and stamped paper were not to be had. Meantime, the newspaper and pamphlet controversy continued. To a pamphlet written by Soame Jenyns, a member of Parliament, published in 1765, entitled The objections to the taxation of our American colonies, by the legislature of great Britain, briefly considered, Otis replied with Considerations on behalf of the colonies, in a letter to a noble Lord, the argument of which, save in its plea for leniency and consideration on the part of Great Britain in view of the extent and importance of the colonies, does not differ materially from that which the author had previously advanced. John Adams, “with the exception of Jefferson . . . the most readable of the statesmen of the Revolutionary period,” now entered the lists with a series of four essays, published anonymously and without title in the Boston Gazette in August, 1765. Beginning with an examination of the “ecclesiatical and civil tyranny” which he found exemplified in the canon and feudal law, and of which the Stamp Act was held up as the consummate illustration, Adams traced the course of the historical struggle between corporate oppression and individual liberty and self-assertion. “Admitting we are children, have not children a right to complain when their parents are attempting to break their limbs, to administer poison, or to sell them to enemies for slaves?” Adams had read his history with a Puritan obsession, and neither his interpretation of facts nor his reasoning did him here much credit. The essays had influence, however. Reprinted in The London chronicle, they were finally published in 1768, in revised form, under the misleading title of A dissertation on the canon and the feudal law.1
1 Works, III, 445-464.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.