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By this point, social and political elites had assumed leadership of the colonial opposition to the Stamp Act. On October 31, 1765, New York's merchants decided to boycott British goods, and they were soon joined by other cities. This move put the British economy, which exported about 40 percent of its manufactures to America, in considerable danger. Soon Britain's businessmen were clamoring for the repeal of the Stamp Act.

In mid 1765, the Marquis of Rockingham had succeeded Prime Minister Grenville. He hesitated to advocate repeal and offend the House of Commons, which was outraged and resentful of colonial resistance. However, led by William Pitt, support for repeal grew. In March 1766 Parliament finally repealed the Stamp Act, and passed the Declaratory Act, which stated that Parliament had the authority to legislate for the colonies in all cases.

Commentary

It was not surprising that Boston emerged as the center of resistance to the Stamp Act. In 1765, Bostonians were not living particularly well. The port city, which relied on trade, had been substantially hurt by British restrictions--more so than other cities in the colonies. Moreover, in 1760 the city suffered a great fire that burned nearly 200 warehouses down and left ten percent of the city's population homeless. By 1765, the city had still not completely recovered. The majority of the population blamed British policy for the continued hard times that followed the French and Indian War. Additionally, the Boston town meeting was known for its somewhat radical views on self-government. Many of the most vociferous critics of Parliament, including James Otis and Samuel Adams, lived in Boston.

It is therefore understandable that the first demonstrations against the British took place in Boston. It is also understandable that the primary feature of the so-called Stamp Act crisis, organized political action, would have risen up in Boston. The formation of the Loyal Nine was the first step on a road to what would eventually become unified thinking and action spanning the colonies. Without organization, violence would have been without direction, as it was in the incident in Rhode Island. The Loyal Nine took the first step in channeling the power of the people, uniting two groups that would otherwise have been antagonistic toward each other, and directing that energy against a common foe. This sort of coalition building would prove crucial in the years to come as political leaders went about uniting the thirteen distinctive colonies in resistance.

From its beginnings in the Loyal Nine, grass-roots political organization took on even more sophistication with the leadership of the Sons of Liberty. Now, instead of simply pointing the masses in the right direction, the movement had goals, and the Sons of Liberty took distinct and successful measures to achieve those goals. Also, they exhibited a firm control over their followers that demonstrated an acute knowledge of social and political realities. For instance, they did not want to alienate elites with overly violent and disorganized mob tactics. Therefore they used the utmost discipline and did not permit their followers to carry guns. Knowing the value of martyrs, they decided early on that the only lives lost during the resistance would be American.

Without the organization of the Sons of liberty, elites would never have bought into the resistance. However, seeing that the masses were capable of controlled political expression, politicians and businessmen alike decided that they should join the opposition and lead it to an even more sophisticated, more publicly visible plane. These elites reigned in the scattered demonstrations of the masses, fearing that passion and turmoil would lead the opposition to an early death. It was the actions of the elites, most notably the boycott of British goods, which in the end led Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act.

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