THE DECLARATORY ACT

MARCH 18, 1766 1

[To the Rockingham ministry it became apparent that to attempt to enforce the Stamp Act would be politically dangerous, both in Britain and in the colonies. The nature of the situation may be understood in part from the motion to repeal the law, which stated that "the continuance of the said act would be attended with many inconveniencies, and may be productive of consequences greatly detrimental to the commercial interests of these kingdoms." The debate in Parliament proved to be bitter and was climaxed by the cogent testimony of Benjamin Franklin on behalf of the colonists.

On the same day that the House of Commons repealed the stamp duties it adopted the Declaratory Act, without a division -- i.e., without a recorded vote. However' in the Lords, Pitt's friends attacked the measure strongly because it did not exclude internal taxation of the colonists from the scope of parliamentary supremacy. For the text of the law repealing the Stamp Act see 6 George III, c. 11, The Statutes at Large, p. 19.]


AN ACT FOR THE BETTER SECURING THE DEPENDENCY OF HIS MAJESTY'S DOMINIONS IN AMERICA UPON THE CROWN AND PARLIAMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN

Whereas several of the houses of representatives in His Majesty's colonies and plantations in America have of late, against law, claimed to themselves, or to the general assemblies of the same, the sole and exclusive right of imposing duties and taxes upon His Majesty's subjects in the said colonies and plantations; and have, in pursuance of such claim, passed certain votes, resolutions, and orders derogatory to the legislative authority of Parliament, and inconsistent with the dependency of the said colonies and plantations upon the crown of Great Britain: may it therefore please Your Most Excellent Majesty that it may be declared, and be it declared by the king's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That the said colonies and plantations in America have been, are, and of right ought to be, subordinate unto, and dependent upon the imperial crown and Parliament of Great Britain; and that the king's Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled, had, hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.

II. And be it further declared and enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all resolutions, votes, orders, and proceedings, in any of the said colonies or plantations, whereby the power and authority of the Parliament of Great Britain to make laws and statutes as aforesaid is denied, or drawn into question, are, and are hereby declared to be, utterly null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever.


1. 6 George III, c. 12, The Statutes at Large, ed. Danby Pickering (London, 1767), XXVII, 19-20.


Text Version | Liberty Library | Home | | Constitution Society



7