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5.5.3 No Stamp Act Teapot

This teapot was made in England about 1766-1770, possibly by the Cockpit Hill Factory, Derby, England. Inscribed on one side of the teapot is “No Stamp Act” and on the other is “America, Liberty Restored,” both within flowerheads and stylized scrolling leaftips in black. The cover is painted with a matching border. Teapots such as this were made for sale to the American market soon after the 1766 repeal of the hated Stamp Act, passed by the British Parliament on March 22, 1765.


No Stamp Act Teapot, Division of Cultural and Community Life, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, 2006.0229.01ab

The Stamp Act, passed by Parliament in 1765, required that all official documentation use a special paper that was stamped with marks like this one. The stamped paper cost money and was used as a direct tax on the people who bought it. The paper had to be used for wills, newspapers, pamphlets, and even playing cards and dice. Who do you think would be most affected by this extra cost? How do you think that American colonists felt having to pay this additional tax on things some people used every day? Who could they blame for this additional tax? Why do you think that having to pay extra tax on every paper would push Americans to feel rebellious toward Britain?

The Stamp Act was passed by Parliament in March 1765 and was a direct tax on paper goods sold in the colonies. The intention was to use the tax to pay the debts accrued by the British government for the Seven Years’ War and to station soldiers in the colonies. The American colonists responded by forming a Stamp Act Congress, a colonial meeting of delegates, which occurred in October 1765 in New York City. This delegation argued that the British Parliament had the authority to regulate transatlantic commerce to and from the colonies, including taxes (duties) on that trade, but not the authority to directly tax colonists, which was a power reserved for their own elected colonial governments. As the Stamp Act went into effect in November 1765, Americans resisted through boycotts, public attacks on stamp officials, and editorials in the press. This source is an image of the stamp that would be affixed to paper goods purchased by the colonists. It represents King George III’s Coat of Arms, thus visually reminding colonists of their dependent relationship to the British state each time they purchased these consumer goods. Using the questions above as prompts to guide students through the significance of the Stamp Act, be sure to point out that placing taxes on ordinary transactions would affect many people, not just merchants or wealthy people.

No Stamp Act