The Fatal Stamp
O! The Fatal Stamp!
Danger…poison…death. The image of a skull, and beneath it two crossed bones, has been an unmistakable warning sign to even the illiterate for ages. The symbol leaves no doubt about the consequences for proceeding down a path marked with the skull and bones. For the colonists in pre-revolutionary New England in 1765, the warning was used to mock the crown but also signal the seriousness of a government that had overplayed its hand with the Stamp Act.
The Stamp Act of 1765 was the British Crown’s attempt to recoup revenue spent defending the colonies during the earlier French and Indian War of 1756-1763. Mindlessly pushed through by parliament in March of that year to take effect in November, the Stamp Act would upend the only non-verbal form of communication and legal transactions the colonists had – paper – by taxing it extensively. Any use of paper, from playing cards to last wills, effectively would come under Parliamentary control by requiring an official stamp, received by paying a tax.
Colonists were having none of that given that they still had no representation in Parliament; from their view, the tax violated Common Law and the English Bill of Rights of 1689 which forbade imposition of taxes without the consent of Parliament. Since the colonists had no representative in Parliament, the tax was simply illegal in their eyes. Further, the tax was a general tax and could be used by Parliament in other ways, not necessarily to pay the debt of defending the colonies.
The skull and crossbones image on our patch came from the Pennsylvania Journal which like many other publications used exaggeration and mockery to stir up the readers. It reads:
“An emblem of the effects of the STAMP – O! the fatal Stamp.”
Ultimately, the colonists and the newspapers were successful in creating such a ruckus about this tax that it was repealed in March of the following year. In reality, the Stamp Act never went into effect because the colonial assemblies came out against the tax on legal grounds. In addition the colonists destroyed shipments of the stamped paper from England when it arrived and boycotted many English goods. Ten years before the ‘Shot Heard Round the World’ the rebellion to the Stamp Act began unifying the colonies and the American Revolution continued to simmer.
Enjoy this patch as a reminder of the importance of standing up to unjust laws, the danger of allowing government to run unchecked, and the power of unity.
- Fine Woven
- Hook backing
- Numbered 1-100
- Release: 05/08/2020