UK Politics

Riot-inciting Stamp Act on show in US

Stamp Act. Copyright: Parliamentary Archives, London, HL/PO/PU/1/1765/5G3n11
Image caption The Stamp Act and its consequences are widely taught by teachers in the US

A piece of British legislation, which sparked disorder on the streets of 18th Century America, is to go on display in the US for the first time.

The original 1765 Stamp Act is on loan to the New York Historical Society to feature in a museum exhibition.

The act was passed to make America pay taxes on legal documents, appointments to public office, and even playing cards, to their British rulers.

It is widely considered to be a precipitator of American Independence.

Britain argued the tax was needed to raise funds to pay for soldiers stationed in North America.

But it caused such uproar and disorder in the American colonies that the act was repealed after less than a year.

Caroline Shenton, head of the Parliamentary Archives which has lent the document made of pieced-together animal skins, said the act "undoubtedly played a key part in American history".

She added that it was very fitting that it was America displaying the act for the first time outside the UK.

Louise Mirrer, president of the Historical Society, said: "Every school child in the United States learns about the Stamp Act and the Boston Tea Party.

"Now, for the first time, museum visitors in the United States will be able to view the document with their own eyes.

"As both iconic document and emblem of the tumultuous 18th Century world, the act will impart incomparable immediacy to a story whose contours continue today."

The Stamp Act will feature alongside documents and artefacts from France and Haiti as part of the Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn exhibition at the New York Historical Society museum.

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