The British spent a fortune to defend American territories during the French and Indian War. When the war ended in 1763, Great Britain was deep in debt, and still had to bear the high cost of keeping soldiers stationed permanently in the colonies.
To help pay for these military operations, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765, attempting to tax colonists directly for the first time. The law required American subjects to purchase stamps for most printed materials: everything from legal documents to playing cards.
Believing the act was unconstitutional, outraged colonists boycotted English goods and destroyed the stamps. In Boston, mobs ransacked the homes of two government officials. But loyal colonists believed that British laws, however unpopular, should be obeyed.
John Adams, a young, enterprising lawyer, had to choose. Would he:
accept Britain's Stamp Act or protest the law?