March 2021

President’s Message

Dear Compatriots,

Orange County is very close to getting promoted to the COVID red tier. Restaurants may reopen indoor dining areas, and several other sectors including gyms and movie theaters are permitted to reopen for indoor operations.   The significance to our chapter is at long last we may be able to meet as a group in April or May. Hope all of you are healthy and have remained safe throughout this ordeal. My wife and I have had the first vaccine shot and are due to get the booster the 2nd week of March.

In looking at significant events that happened in March during the American Revolution the Boston Massacre occurred on March 5, 1770 (251 years ago).  A small British army detachment that was threatened by mob harassment opened fire and killed five people, an incident soon known as the Boston Massacre. The soldiers were charged with murder and were given a civilian trial, in which John Adams conducted a successful defense.  The Boston Massacre helped spark the colonists’ desire for American independence, while the dead rioters became martyrs for liberty.

This month the chapter is still refraining from social gathering which means that the monthly chapter meeting will once again be virtual using the Zoom app on Tuesday, March 16th at 7pm.  As in prior months it is my hope that you can find the time to connect to the virtual meeting.  It’s important that we try to maintain synergy as a chapter as we work through the restrictions on meeting in person.  Let’s keep doing our part to promote American patriotism.

Stay safe and stay healthy my fellow compatriots.

In patriotism,

R. Scott Whitman

March 16 Chapter Zoom Meeting

Tuesday, March 16 at 7:00 PM

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we will be conducting our monthly meetings using Zoom teleconferencing for a while.  Our next meeting is on the third Tuesday, March 16 at 7:00 PM. 

Members will be emailed a meeting link, meeting ID and passcode.

The Stamp Act of 1765

The Stamp Act, passed by the British Parliament on March 22, 1765, was one of the major events that triggered the American Revolution.  It required the American colonists to purchase and affix official tax stamps to all sorts of printed materials such as newspapers, magazines and legal documents.

The reason that this tax was imposed by the British is that they felt that the American colonists should share in the expenses from the French and Indian War, fought in 1754 through 1763, that pitted the French and their American Indian allies against the Colonists with significant assistance from the British Army.  The British felt that this tax was justified because of the benefits the colonists received from the blood and treasure they expended (which was decisive in the victory), however, the colonists did not agree.  They felt that they had already paid their share of the war’s expenses.

The Stamp Act was very unpopular among colonists. A majority considered it a violation of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent—consent that only the colonial legislatures could grant. The colonists believed that the tax imposed by the British was unfair since they had no representatives in the British Parliament and had no say in the nature and amount of the taxes.  This they referred to as “taxation without representation” which became one of the rallying calls of the Revolution ten years hence.  One of the more onerous provisions of the Stamp Act was the requirement that the tax be paid with British money and not colonial paper money.

The reaction of the colonists to the Stamp Act was immediate.  Many refused to pay the tax.  Protests and demonstrations increased.  The tax collectors were hung in effigy, threatened and/or forced to resign from their jobs.  The stamped paper was burned in the streets and British products and merchants were boycotted.  The tax was really never effectively collected. 

Local protest groups established Committees of Correspondence which created a loose coalition from New England to Maryland.  So strong were the feelings against the Stamp Act that a meeting of all of the colonies was called and named the Stamp Act Congress.  It was held in New York City from October 7 to October 25, 1765 and drafted a formal protest of the Stamp Act which was sent to Britain.

The events of this era gave rise to groups of Americans known as Sons of Liberty who protested against the taxes, intimidated the tax collectors, and eventually became driving forces in the American Revolution.

Opposition to the Stamp Act was not limited to the colonies. British merchants and manufacturers pressured Parliament because their exports to the colonies were threatened by boycotts.  Parliament responded to business interests by repealing the Stamp Act on March 18, 1766.  They realized that the Stamp Act was a mistake but they still felt a need to assert their authority to tax the colonies.  On that same day they passed the Declaratory Act in which they declared Parliament’s right to levy taxes and make laws in the colonies.  A series of new taxes and regulations then ensued—likewise opposed by the Americans. This included the Tea Tax which led to the Boston Tea Party.  The Declaratory Act played a major role in defining the 27 colonial grievances that were clearly stated within the text of the Indictment of George III section of the Declaration of Independence, enabling the organized colonial resistance which led to the American Revolution. 

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”

Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

Patrick Henry’s legacy has become indelibly linked with his oration to the Second Virginia Convention where he proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death.” However, Henry did not just give one speech and was not merely an unwavering patriot, Henry was a skilled politician, lawyer, and orator. 

He was originally elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses in 1765 and he traveled to Williamsburg where the Burgesses were already in session and debating the Stamp Act.  When the Act passed, the burgeoning politician introduced the Stamp Act Resolves. The “Resolves” established that Virginian colonists had the same rights as British citizens and that taxation without representation is tyranny. During this session, Henry also gave an impassioned speech arguing against the Stamp Act. During the speech, the not so tactful orator carefully referenced how tyrants were murdered, never actually mentioning King George; however, the room read his tone, and many decried his statement as treason. Henry famously replied, “If this be treason, make the most of it.”

Henry attended the Virginia Conventions from 1774-1776; these meetings set out a plan for the colony of Virginia and were crucial for the nation’s independence. Utilizing committees of correspondence, the rising Virginian contacted John and Samuel Adams, and together they decided to push their respective colonies to independence. Henry’s defining moment came in the Second Virginia Convention—when he delivered his now famous “Give me Liberty or give me death!” speech. Many future patriots were in the audience, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. The address helped drive prominent Virginians to prepare for war. No one in the audience recorded the speech, and later historians pieced the speech together, it is unclear if Henry actually concluded with the famous quote or if that was invented years later to sell books. 

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