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This Day in Georgia History

January 03, 1766

Stamp Act

To view a publication on the Stamp Act in Georgia, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

The first (and only) British representative to administer the Stamp Act in Georgia arrived by ship at Tybee. The Stamp Act required that colonists pay a tax on a wide variety of legal, business, and personal items. Every piece of paper with printing on it–including all business and legal documents, contracts, bills of sale, licenses, and newspapers–was subject to the tax. The "stamp" was not like a postage stamp but rather was an embosssed or printed design applied to the page or document to show that the tax had been paid. Tax agents were supplied with supplies of blank paper on which the the revenue stamp had been embossed or printed. For documents already printed, the agent had an embosser to apply to the document once the tax was paid. Opposition to the Stamp Act in the American colonies was immediate. Fearing for the safety of the British tax agent, royal governor James Wright sent an armed party to have him escorted to the governor’s house in Savannah. After two weeks, the official left Georgia without having done his job. And though Parliament would shortly repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766, Georgia would have the unhappy distinction of being the only American colony in which revenue was collected under the act. On Dec. 5, 1765, when the stamped paper first arrived in Georgia, Savannah’s port was clogged with over 60 ships. To load and unload cargoes, ship captains and merchants needed official bills of lading–documents subject to the Stamp Act. To reopen the port, Savannah merchants agreed to pay the tax so the ships could be unloaded. Though this was the only case where Georgians paid the stamp tax, the action resulted in other American colonies condemning Georgia – and a call by some for boycotting “that infamous colony.”