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Enclosure: Patrick Henry’s Stamp Act Resolves, 30 May 1765


Patrick Henry’s Stamp Act Resolves, with Notes by William Wirt

Patrick Henry’s Resolutions copied from the Journal of the House of Burgesses in 1765. May 30.

1Resolved That the first adventurers and 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 said colony, all the Liberties, Privileges, Franchises and Immunities, that have at any time been held, enjoyed and possessed by the people of Great Britain.

2Resolved That by two Royal Charters, granted by King James the First the colonists aforesd are declared entitled to all Liberties, Privileges and Immunities of Denizens and natural Subjects to all intents & purposes, as if they had been abiding & born within the realm of England.

3Resolved 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 on the people, is the only security against a burthensome taxation, and the distinguishing characteristic of British freedom, without which the ancient constitution cannot exist.

4Resolved That his Majesty’s liege people of this his most ancient and loyal colony have without interruption enjoyed 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; and that the same hath never been forfeited or yielded up but hath been constantly recognized by the Kings & People of Great Britain.

Here the Journal stops:—these are the resolutions as amended in the House—For the Journal says that they were passed, with amendments.—Mr H’s seems to be the copy as reported by the committee of the whole house.

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 201:35848); entirely in Wirt’s hand. Printed in Journal of the House of Burgesses (Williamsburg, 1765), 149–50; preceded by “Mr. Attorney, from the Committee of the whole House, reported, according to Order, that the Committee had considered of the Steps necessary to be taken in Consequence of the Resolutions of the House of Commons of Great Britain relative to the charging certain Stamp Duties in the Colonies and Plantations in America, and that they had come to several Resolutions thereon; which he read in his Place, and then delivered in at the Table, where they were again twice read, and agreed to by the House, with some Amendments, and are as follow.”

Texts of resolves drafted by Henry but not finally approved by the house of burgesses are given in note to TJ to Wirt, 14 Aug. 1814.

Index Entries

  • Great Britain; and Stamp Act (1765) search
  • Henry, Patrick; and Stamp Act Resolves search
  • James I, king of England; and Va. charters search
  • Stamp Act (1765); resolutions opposing search
  • Virginia; House of Burgesses search
  • Virginia; House of Burgesses, journals of search