Stamps

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Proof sheet of one-penny stamps submitted for approval to Commissioners of Stamps by engraver. 10 May 1765.

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The Last Shift

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This 1765 print is a British artist’s impression of what it meant to appoint Americans as stamp distributors under the Stamp Act. The men on the left tell the highwayman, “We are all Americans,” while the king tells the Earl of Bute, “Money we must have.” The way the act promised to turn Americans against each other—pitting imperial employees against their fellow colonists—was another element of its perceived cruelty.

The Deplorable State of America

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At the center of this 1765 etching, Britain offers America the Stamp Act in the form of a Pandora’s Box, as Commerce flees and a bellicose Athena tells them not to take it. The print illustrates the multidimensional difficulties associated with the Stamp Act—commercial, political, and existential. On the far left, Americans stand in front of a gallows, reflecting that “necessity has no Law” and “We shall all starve.”

The Great Financier

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This 1765 British satirical print shows George Grenville, the “financier,” weighing pennies against the nation’s deep postwar debts, but, in doing so, shackles America, which would—if free to trade—be able to deliver the sack of dollars she holds in her right hand. The yoke on the enslaved America’s neck is marked “Taxed without Representation.”