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In Their Own Words

October 28, 1765

Letter Outlined American Opposition to British Taxation

After the Seven Year’s War (or French and Indian War as it was called in America), the British Parliament began to levy takes on American subjects to help defray the cost of their defense. Many Americans contended this was unfair on the grounds that the colonists were not directly represented in Parliament - a debate that ultimately led to the American Revolution. In a letter about the Stamp Act to William Knox in London, James Habersham outlined the American argument against such taxation:

“… I have read with great attention Mr. Campbells Pamphlet, called if I recollect, The Late regulations of the Colonies Considered, and notwithstanding your great enconium of the performance, especially where you say, that he has so fully answered the objection the Colonies make to an internal Tax being imposed, where they are not represented, that you need not add thereon, I cannot my Dear Friend see that either you or he have advanced one real argument in support of the Assertion. It appears to me an insult on the most common understanding to talk of our being virtually represented, and I must own, I cannot fix any precise idea to the word virtual, when we are speaking of the indefeasible Birth Right of a British American Subject … We have not yet seen the Stamp Act here, but we are told it empowers the Court of Admiralty (where a jury is not admitted) to take cognizance of causes arising thereupon, - This, to me is not a little alarming, and I may perhaps add, is so to every individual inhabitant of this Province, if not of this Continent … I think your Superstructure wants a Foundation, being wholy founded on prescription, and not on any rights invested by the Americans in any Man or body of men in Parliament to represent, and consequently to tax them… .”

Source: Collections of the Georgia Historical Society, Vol. VI, The Letters of the Hon. James Habersham, 1756-1775 (Savannah, Georgia Historical Society, 1904), pp. 44-45.