Historical Documents

of the United States of America

The Declaratory Act ~ 1766

Passed 18 March 1766


      This Act, Cited as 6 Geo. III Cap. 12 was passed by the British Parliament as a response to the American's Declaration of Rights.
      On the 6th of February, the House of Lords voted for, and on 17 March passed, by a very close vote of 59 to 54, a resolution to enforce the execution of the Stamp Act, whatever the objection by the Colonies. The House of Commons, though, in a similar vote that was taken on 22 February, rejected the resolution to push the Act by a votye of nearly two to one at 275 to 167. The Commons passed the repeal bill on 04 March. The King was found to be leaning toward making certain modifications to the Act; he finally announced his royal assent of the bill to repeal the Stamp Act on the 18th of March.
     News of the repeal of the Stamp Act reached the city of New York on 26 April 1766 and engendered much rejoicing throughout that colony, spreading quickly north and south. While the colonists were celebrating their victory over the Stamp Act, they almost failed to notice that another Act had arrived. Consisting of only two clauses, actually a preamble and one clause, it was the Declaratory Act, which overtly stated that Parliament had the full authority to make and issue laws that would be binding on the Americn colonists in all cases whatsoever.


     WHEREAS several of the houses of respresentatives 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 parliamet 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.
From The Statutes At Large, From Magna Charta To The End Of The Eleventh Parliament Of Great Britain, Anno 1761 Continued, Volume XXVII, 1767, Pages 19-20.