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"The Fatal Year": Slavery, Violence, and the Stamp Act of 1765
  • Joshua F. Beatty, SUNY Plattsburgh

This dissertation represents the first book-length study of the Stamp Act in the American colonies since Edmund and Helen Morgan’s The Stamp Act Crisis: Prologue to Revolution from 1953. As such, it incorporates nearly sixty years of historiographical and methodological evolution to reinterpret the resistance to the Stamp Act as a specifically colonial moment, rather than simply one step on an inevitable and logical path to the American Revolution. The four chapters proceed chronologically through the period May 1765 – May 1766. The first chapter examines the colonists’ decision to resist the Stamp Act and ends in July 1765. Chapter 2 is a study of the crowd actions against crown officers in August through October. The third chapter covers the long winter of nullification, while the final chapter focuses on the repeal celebrations of May 1766. Throughout, this dissertation looks specifically at the colonists’ point of view and uses sources penned in the heat of the moment to reconstruct their states of mind as they reacted to events. It focuses on slavery as the dominant metaphor colonists used for the Stamp Act and shows how the metaphor both dominated print discourse and served to justify violence against supporters of the Act.

  • stamp act,
  • american revolution,
  • sons of liberty,
  • stamp act congress,
  • patrick henry,
  • slavery rhetoric
Publication Date
May, 2014
Ph.D. dissertation, College of William and Mary, Department of History.
Citation Information
Joshua F. Beatty. ""The Fatal Year": Slavery, Violence, and the Stamp Act of 1765" (2014)
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