What Are the Similarities in the Stamp Act Congress & the First Continental Congress?

The Stamp Act Congress and the First Continental Congress eventually led to the Declaration of Independence.
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The Stamp Act Congress of 1765 and the First Continental Congress of 1774 were two meetings of representatives from the American colonies, convened in response to taxes imposed by Great Britain. Yet while the Stamp Act Congress and the associated boycott of British goods successfully forced Britain to repeal the Stamp Act, the First Continental Congress occurred during a time of heightened tension between Britain and the colonies and instead directly led to the American Revolution.

1 Background

After 1763, Britain began imposing direct taxes on the colonies to help pay for the recently concluded French and Indian War and for the British troops stationed to protect colonists from Native American attacks such as Pontiac's Rebellion, a major uprising in 1763. One of these taxes was the Stamp Act of 1763, which placed a tax on all official paper goods used in the colonies, ranging from newspapers to legal documents.

2 The Stamp Act Congress

American colonists saw the tax as unfair as they had no representatives in the British Parliament, and thus they called a meeting in 1765 in New York. Attended by nine of the 13 American colonies, this Congress was the first time representatives from the colonies met and jointly crafted a response to Great Britain. The Congress supported various boycotts begun independently by colonial merchants, and through the Congress' actions, they convinced Britain to repeal the Stamp Act in 1766.

3 First Continental Congress

The Stamp Act Congress also set a precedent for future colonial meetings, and when Britain passed the Intolerable Acts in 1774 to punish Boston for its role in the Boston Tea Party a year earlier, another meeting was called in Philadelphia, known as the First Continental Congress. Many of the same delegates from the Stamp Act Congress were present, and of the colonies that would eventually declare independence, only Georgia was absent. This Congress collectively decided on another boycott of British goods, and arranged for a future meeting several months later.

4 Second Continental Congress

This second meeting was known the Second Continental Congress and occurred in May 1775, soon after the American Revolution had begun. This Congress would not only manage the colonial war effort but would also famously declare independence on July 4, 1776. Were it not for the previous meetings in 1765 and 1774, this last and most important convention could not have occurred as the Stamp Act Congress set the precedent for the First Continental Congress, which in turn set the precedent for the Second.

Aatif Rashid writes on international politics and culture. His articles have appeared in magazines such as "The Oxonian Globalist" and online at Future Foreign Policy and ThinkPolitic. He holds Bachelor's degrees in English and history from U.C. Berkeley and a Masters degree from the University of Oxford.