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With the resolutions,1 memorials, and petitions of the Stamp Act Congress (October, 1765), we reach the first of the series of great state papers which, while of supreme value for the proper understanding of the constitutional position of the colonies, are also, in some respects, the most characteristic literary product of the Revolutionary period. Nowhere else in American literature does the peculiar gift of formal expression and logical exposition in politics show itself on so large a scale or in so great a cause, and in no country in the world has such expression moved so long and so consistently on a high plane, or voiced itself with so much dignity, condensed forcefulness, or formal beauty. For the most part the work of a few hands, and in some cases of composite authorship, the state papers of the American Revolution became, through their force of argument and sweep of phrase, the accepted statements of political faith, first for the patriot party, and then for the American people.

Of the important papers agreed to by the Stamp Act Congress, two--a declaration of rights and grievances and a petition to the king — were mainly the work of John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, whose notable career as a political writer, already begun in the controversial atmosphere of his own colony, was to earn for him the title of “the penman of the Revolution.” At the end of the year 1765 Dickinson also published at Philadelphia a pamphlet entitled The late regulations respecting the British colonies on the Continent of America considered, in a letter from a Gentleman in Philadelphia to his friend in London,2 which was reprinted in London and attracted favourable notice. A notable pamphlet, published anonymously, by Daniel Dulany of Maryland, one of the ablest of colonial lawyers, entitled Considerations on the propriety of imposing taxes in the British colonies, for the purpose of raising a revenue, by Act of Parliament, in which the notion of the “virtual representation” of the colonies in Parliament was conclusively denied, appeared while the Stamp Act Congress was in session, and was also republished in London.

The repeal of the Stamp Act (March, 1766) caused a sudden cessation of the agitation in America; and the ominous Declaratory

1 Text in W. MacDonald, Select Charters, 314, 315.

2 Writings, ed. Ford, I, 211-245.

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