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Credit NationProperty Laws and Institutions in Early America$
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Claire Priest

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780691158761

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691158761.001.0001

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The Stamp Act and Legal and Economic Institutions

The Stamp Act and Legal and Economic Institutions

(p.115) 6 The Stamp Act and Legal and Economic Institutions
Credit Nation

Claire Priest

Princeton University Press

The chapter evaluates the Stamp Act and the contrasting visions of the colonial economy and its institutions advanced by the Stamp Act supporters in England and the Stamp Act opponents in the colonies. It focuses on the first colony, Virginia, as an example of events taking place throughout the colonies. The chapter begins by describing how colonial legislatures assumed authority over establishing the level of fees imposed by the county-level institutions. Moving to the Stamp Act crisis, it then examines how colonial protestors found the Stamp Act taxes offensive because, in addition to usurping colonial legislatures' power over taxation, they targeted official legal documents in the course of services offered by colonial institutions, like land transfers, mortgages, and court procedures. The opposition to the Stamp Act was, in part, rooted in a profound hostility to raising the fees and costs of the institutional infrastructure that was foundational to the day-to-day workings of the colonial economy. The legislative reforms of the founding era reveal that a lasting legacy of the colonial era was an opposition to using institutional services as a source of government revenue.

Keywords:   Stamp Act, colonial economy, colonial institutions, Virginia, colonial legislatures, taxation, colonial America, government revenue

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