Granite State Stories: Portsmouth protests the Stamp Act

  • “New Hampshire: Stamp Master in Effigy,” 1765, engraved for John Warner Barber, Interesting Events in the History of the United States, 1829. N.H. Historical Society

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When the British government needed to raise revenue after the French and Indian War, it levied a tax on every piece of paper in the American colonies, such as stationery, newspapers, playing cards and legal documents.

Many colonists opposed not just the tax but the fact that it was implemented without their consent.

In September 1765, an angry mob gathered in Portsmouth and hung the Crown-appointed stamp master in effigy, later burning the figure.

On Nov. 1, the date the Stamp Act was to go into effect, Portsmouth colonists staged a mock funeral procession, complete with tolling bells, flags flown at half mast, and a coffin labeled “Liberty, Age 145, Stampt.”

As a result of these and similar protests throughout the colonies, the Stamp Act was repealed, although tensions continued to grow between the colonies and Britain.

The Liberty Pole in Portsmouth’s Prescott Park commemorates this early act of rebellion against the British Crown.

N.H. Historical Society