On Nov. 1, 1765 in the face of widespread opposition in the American colonies, Parliament enacted the Stamp Act, a taxation measure designed to raise revenue for British military operations in America.
Defense of the American colonies in the French and Indian War (1754-63) and Pontiac's Rebellion (1763-64) were costly affairs for Great Britain, and Prime Minister George Grenville hoped to recover some of these costs by taxing the colonists. In 1764, the Sugar Act was enacted, putting a high duty on refined sugar. Although resented, the Sugar Act tax was hidden in the cost of import duties, and most colonists accepted it. The Stamp Act, however, was a direct tax on the colonists and led to an uproar in America over an issue that was to be a major cause of the Revolution: taxation without representation.
Passed without debate by Parliament in March 1765, the Stamp Act was designed to force colonists to use special stamped paper in the printing of newspapers, pamphlets, almanacs, and playing cards, and to have a stamp embossed on all commercial and legal papers. The stamp itself displayed an image of a Tudor rose framed by the word "America" and the French phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense—"Shame to him who thinks evil of it."