Patrick Henry's Resolves as Printed in the Maryland Gazette (4 July 1765)

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A failure as a shopkeeper and farmer, Patrick Henry entered Virginia's House of Burgesses only shortly before the London Parliament imposed upon its North American Colonies the much-detested Stamp Act of 1765. In response, Henry, already famous for his impassioned rhetoric in defense of colonial rights, composed the radical resolutions seen here, in which he denounced the ultimate authority of the Parliament over domestic legislatures and reiterated the rallying cry of "no taxation without representation." Mysteriously, although the House of Burgesses rejected some of Henry's complaints as too harshly critical of the King, what finally appeared in the Maryland Gazette on 4 July contains strong language that seems to belong neither to Henry nor the House. Electrified by such straightforwardness, whatever its origin, more colonies rushed to follow suit, and Patrick Henry became famous throughout North America and Great Britain as a powerful influence on revolutionary thought.

Laura M.Miller,
Vanderbilt University

See also Revolution, American: Political History ; "Taxation Without Representation."

Resolves of the House of Burgesses in Virginia, June 1765.

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

That by Two Royal Charters, granted by King James the First, the Colonies aforesaid are Declared Entitled, to all Liberties, Privileges and Immunities, of Denizens and Natural Subjects (to all Intents and Purposes) as if they had been Abiding and Born within the Realm of England.

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, or the easiest Method of Raising them, and must themselves be affected by every Tax laid upon the People, is the only Security against a Burthensome Taxation; and the Distinguishing Characteristic of British freedom; and, without which, the ancient Constitution cannot exist.

That his Majesty's Liege People of this his most Ancient and Loyal Colony, have, without Interruption, the inestimable Right of being Governed by such Laws, respecting their internal Polity and Taxation, as are derived from their own Consent, with the Approbation of their Sovereign, or his Substitute; which Right hath never been Forfeited, or Yielded up; but hath been constantly recognized by the Kings and People of Great Britain.

Resolved therefore, That the General Assembly of this Colony, with the Consent of his Majesty, or his Substitute, Have the Sole Right and Authority to lay Taxes and Impositions upon It's Inhabitants: And, That every Attempt to vest such Authority in any other Person or Persons whatsoever, has a Manifest Tendency to Destroy American Freedom.

That his Majesty's Liege People, Inhabitants of this Colony, are not bound to yield Obedience to any Law or Ordinance whatsoever, designed to impose any Taxation upon them, other than the Laws or Ordinances of the General Assembly as aforesaid.

That any Person who shall, by Speaking, or Writing, assert or maintain, That any Person or Persons, other than the General Assembly of this Colony, with such Consent as aforesaid, have any Right or Authority to lay or impose any Tax whatever on the Inhabitants thereof, shall be Deemed, an Enemy to this his Majesty's Colony.

SOURCE: Henry, Patrick. "Resolves of the House of Burgesses in Virginia." Maryland Gazette, July 4, 1765.

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Patrick Henry's Resolves as Printed in the Maryland Gazette (4 July 1765)

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