Colonial Crowds Protest the Stamp Act (short version)
The British parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765. The act required that colonists buy a stamp from the government for most printed items, such as newspapers, contracts, books, playing cards, and court documents. Popular protests against the new law broke out across the American colonies. This account of an attack by artisans and farmers on the office and home of Andrew Oliver, Boston's stamp collector, appeared in the patriot newspaper the Boston Gazette. The day after the protest, Oliver resigned his position. Political protests against Britain took place not just among elites or in colonial legislatures but on the streets as well; in New York alone, fifty-seven crowd risings took place between 1764 and 1775.
. . . Towards dark some thousands proceeded to Oliver’s Dock, where there was a new brick building just finished; and [because they thought it was] a “Stamp Office,” instantly set about demolishing it, which they thoroughly effected in about half an hour. In the mean time the high sheriff being apprehensive that the Stamp-Master, and his family, might be in danger from the tumult went and advised them to evacuate the house…the multitude . . . set about pulling down a [section] of fence upwards of 15 feet high, which enclosed the bottom of the garden… stripped the trees of their fruit, [ruined] some of them by breaking off the limbs, broke the windows in the rear part of the house, entered the same, went down to the cellar, and helped themselves to the liquor which they found there . . .