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A Taxing Development: The Stamp Act is Passed

No. Not THAT Stamp Act. The British government has decided to tax publications. By tradition, only scientific papers carry an author's name. That gives the scientific paper credibility. Everything else usually carries no author name and is considered gossip, a story, or unverifiable ancient history... and also makes them untraceable. Now with copyright protection, an author has an incentive to register his publication with the government. This registration identifies a person to the government and with the expiration of the censorship laws, the government is looking for ways to keep the public safe from heresy, blasphemy and uncomfortable facts about the government that will stir up the mob. Making publications more expensive will keep such material out of their hands, so Parliament passes the Stamp Act. It taxes newspapers so severely that only the rich can afford them. Nevertheless, printers still have the ability to produce those large proclamation sheets that Queen Anne uses to communicate with her subjects, so they switch to the larger page size. Not only do they reduce their tax obligation, but in the public's mind, the larger size associates the newspaper with the Queen's authority. The big news comes on big pages. Thus the broadsheet is born. In 1765, the Parliament will pass a different Stamp Act that will become a pivot point in the American Revolution. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
A helpful government service (copyright protection) quickly turned into a means of government taxation. The 1765 Stamp Act placed a tax on legal documents, pamphlets, gambling cards and DICE! (Is nothing sacred?) You can see the beginnings of a government obsession with identifying the author of publications and punishing undesirable activities. It begins with the simple need to tax the proper person. You don't want the WRONG person taxed. Right? And it makes sense to identify "bad" people who are stirring up trouble or leading people away from the True Faith. And you don't want people gambling instead of working hard to feed their children. It's for the children! Right? And since government has only the public good in mind, people who oppose various government programs are obviously working against the public good... people like Republicans or Democrats or (shudder) Libertarians! All because the government wants to protect the public... and itself.
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -- Benjamin Franklin, November 11, 1755. [6]

Before Uncle Sam there was John Bull!

John Bull is an inspiring British character used to represent the "everyman". He is a common sense fellow who simply wants what is best for Great Britain and knows how to get it done. No nonsense. Not a lot of talking. Just action. In images, he is sometimes shown pointing the way, or pointing at YOU. This year the fictional story entitled "The History of John Bull" is published. The publisher is bullish on its sales prospects. The character will "live on" into the modern day as a symbol of Great Britain just as Uncle Sam is often used to symbolize the United States of America. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The character of Uncle Sam has disputed origins. Most agree that the earliest reference was from the War of 1812. A fellow named Sam Wilson was generally known as "Uncle Sam". He produced rations for the military and stamped the containers with the letters U.S., meaning United States, but with good-natured ribbing, his fellows said it stood for "Uncle Sam". Historians have dug up earlier references to an Uncle Sam that represent either the country itself (the land) or the government's authority. In any case, Uncle Sam did not start out like John Bull who simply represented the common man. [12]

Some Notable Births

* Frederick the Great is born in Berlin, Prussia. I am reminded of that quote from Conan the Barbarian, "Do you want to live forever?" That is a paraphrase of a quote from Fredrick the Great.[13]
* Jean-Jacques Rousseau (an interesting madman) born in Geneva. He will have a massive influence on the modern day educational system. His only true love said of him, "He was ugly enough to frighten me and love did not make him more attractive. But he was a pathetic figure and I treated him with gentleness and kindness. He was an interesting madman." [14]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1712, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Griffin, Robert J. (Autumn 1999). "Anonymity and Authorship". New Literary History (Johns Hopkins University Press) 30 (4): 877-895. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20057576. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  2. Broadsheet - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 April 2015. “Historically, broadsheets developed after the British in 1712 placed a tax on newspapers based on the number of their pages. Larger formats, however, had long been signs of status in printed objects, and still are in many places, and outside Britain the broadsheet developed for other reasons, including style and authority, unrelated to the British tax structure.”
  3. broadsheet - definition of broadsheet. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 3 April 2015. “(Journalism & Publishing) a newspaper having a large format, approximately 15 by 24 inches (38 by 61 centimetres). Compare tabloid.”
  4. The key moments that shaped the British press. BBC News (17 November 2012). Retrieved on 19 January 2016. “Ever fearful of the consequences of a free press, in 1712 the state introduced a stamp tax on newspapers and further duties on paper and advertising. The purpose was to make newspapers sufficiently expensive to restrict their circulation to only the well off and avoid the perils of mass circulation.”
  5. Thomas, Joseph M. (1916). "Swift and the Stamp Act of 1712". PMLA (Modern Language Association) 31 (2): 247-263. http://www.jstor.org/stable/456958. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  6. Benjamin Franklin - Wikiquote. en.wikiquote.org (11 November 1755). Retrieved on 19 January 2016. “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. This was first written by Franklin for the Pennsylvania Assembly in its Reply to the Governor (11 Nov. 1755)”
  7. Taylor, Miles (February 1992). "John Bull and the Iconography of Public Opinion in England c. 1712-1929". Past & Present (Oxford University Press on behalf of Past and Present Society) (134): 93-128. http://www.jstor.org/stable/650800. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  8. Everyman - definition of everyman (2016). Retrieved on 19 January 2016. “(often not capital) the ordinary person; common man”
  9. John Bull - definition of John Bull (2016). Retrieved on 19 January 2016. “name of a character intended to be representative of the English nation in The History of John Bull (1712) by John Arbuthnot”
  10. The History of John Bull. Gutenberg.org (1712). Retrieved on 19 January 2016.
  11. John Bull - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 19 January 2016. “John Bull originated in the creation of Dr. John Arbuthnot, a friend of Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver's Travels) and satirist Alexander Pope in 1712, and was popularised first by British print makers. Arbuthnot created Bull in his pamphlet Law is a Bottomless Pit (1712).[2] The same year Arbuthnott published a four-part political narrative The History of John Bull. In this satirical treatment of the War of the Spanish Succession a bold, honest and forthright clothier John Bull brings a lawsuit against various figures intended to represent the kings of France and Spain as well as institutions both foreign and domestic.”
  12. Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society. Google Books (1909). Retrieved on 19 January 2016.
  13. Frederick II of Prussia - Wikiquote. en.wikiquote.org (1757). Retrieved on 19 January 2016. “Rascals, would you live forever? To hesitant guards at Kolin, 18 June 1757”
  14. Paul Johnson. Intellectuals. Harper & Row. ISBN 0060916575. 

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