Sunday, September 28, 2008


In March 1765 the British Parliament passed the Stamp act, a piece
of legislation that said that an official government stamp or seal must
be attached to most printed items ranging from newspapers and
pamphlets to posters and playing cards. The recent French and
Indian Wars had been costly for Britain and there was also the need
to pay and supply the British troops still in North America.

For their part, many colonists reacted angrily to this first tax placed
them and were galvanized to take the steps that would lead to the
birth of an independent American nation. One of the earliest actions was
the Braintree Instructions, an official protest to the Stamp Act that was
to be delivered to Braintree's Representative to the General Court,
Ebenezer Thayer, Jr. The Braintree Town Meeting appointed five
men to draft the document: Samuel Niles, Norton Quincy, James Penniman,
John Hayward and a young lawyer named John Adams. The finished
document was presented to the Town Meeting on Sept 24th, 1765

Like most Americans I was completely ignorant of the Braintree Instructions.
I first heard about them from my friend and co-worker Rick Durham, a
member of the Braintree Historical Society, and he's printed a pamphlet entitled
John Adams' The Braintree Instructions: The First United Voice of Freedom in
Massachusetts. It's an excellent examination of the importance of the Instructions
in the events leading up to the Revolution. I won't go any further into the material
Rick covers, but I will highly recommend to my readers that they read his pamphlet
for themselves and gain an appreciation of the significance of the Instructions in
our country's history.

You can purchase the pamphlet at or from Rick himself
at for $5.00USA.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

What an interesting post, Bill. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!