Primary Resource

Virginia Resolves on the Stamp Act (1765)

Patrick Henry wrote the following five resolutions against the Stamp Act and introduced them to the House of Burgesses on May 29, 1765. The House passed them after a heated debate, but rescinded the fifth resolution the following day. This iteration of the Virginia Stamp Act resolves comes from a handwritten document that was found inside a small envelope that Henry included with his last will and testament.

Transcription from Original

Resolved, That the first Adventurers and Settlers of this his Majesties Colony and Dominion brought with them and transmitted to their Posterity and all other his Majestie's Subjects since inhabiting in this his Majestie's said Colony all the Priviledges, Franchises & Immunities that have at any Time been held, enjoyed, & possessed by the People of Great Britain.

Resolved, That by the two royal Charters granted by King James the first the Colonists aforesaid are declared intituled to all the Priviledges, Liberties & Immunities of Denizens and natural born Subjects to all Intents and Purposes as if they had been abiding and born within the Realm of England.

Resolved, That the Taxation of the People by themselves or by Persons chosen by themselves to represent them who can only know what Taxes the People are able to bear and the easiest Mode of raising them and are equally affected by such Taxes themselves is the distinguishing Characteristick of British Freedom and without which the ancient Constitution cannot subsist.

Resolved, That his Majestie's liege People of this most ancient Colony have uninteruptedly enjoyed the Right of being thus governed by their own assembly in the Article of their Taxes and internal Police and that the same hath never been forfeited or any other Way given up but hath been constantly recognized by the Kings of People of Great Britain.

Resolved, Therefore that the General Assembly of this Colony have the only and sole exclusive Right & Power to lay Taxes & Impositions upon the Inhabitants of this Colony and that every Attempt to vest such Power in any Person or Persons whatsoever other than the General Assembly aforesaid has a manifest Tendency to destroy British as well as American Freedom.