Who Were The Sons Of Liberty?

A calling for a meeting of the Songs of Liberty.

Who Were The Sons Of Liberty?

The Sons of Liberty was a secret organization led by political dissidents from the thirteen colonies seeking independence from the British government. The organization was formed with the aim of fighting taxation policies being imposed by the British rather than seek independence. The Sons of Liberty constitution adopted in 1766 stated that the organization did not intend to start a revolution against the government. They committed their allegiance to King George the Third and the rule of law. Although the group was seeking fair treatment from the government, they were unintentionally fueling the flames of the revolution. They are best remembered for the opposing the Stamp Act of 1765 and for coining the phrase “No Taxation without Representation.” The organization was disbanded after the Stamp Act was repealed, but separatists seeking independence from the British continued using the name in their resistance gatherings.

The Rise Of The Sons Of Liberty

In 1765, the colonial government required funds to pay and maintain the soldiers deployed to the colonies; the parliament passed laws requiring the American population to finance the soldier’s activities through taxes. The local population refused to pay the taxes and claimed that they were not to be held accountable for tax liabilities accrued without their consent. The colonies did not have a representative in the British government, and the colonies, therefore, referred to the policies as "No Taxation without Representation.” The British government asserted that the parliament had every right to assert laws over the colony without the consent of the colonies. The Stamp Act of 1765 in particular, led to an uproar. The colony of Virginia initiated legislative opposition followed by mass demonstrations and physical threats against government officials. In August 1765 the Sons of Liberty was formed in Boston, Massachusetts. On November 6th of the same year, a committee was formulated in New York to link the resistance in the colony with other resistance in other states. The colonies linked up very quickly and by March 1766, Sons of Liberty had spread to Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey. The resistance quickly escalated into a physical altercation when the groups’ members began burning down the post offices and destroyed mails and stamps. Several lower class joined the resistance that was quickly spreading leading to a mass resignation of government officials who feared for their lives and property being targeted by the resistance.

Legacy Of The Sons Of Liberty

After the Stamp Act was repealed, the Sons of Liberty congregated under the “Liberty Tree” to celebrate the victory. After the end of the American Revolution, John Lamb, Isaac Sears, and Marinus Willet revived the Sons of Liberty. After securing enough seats in New York, the group advocated for laws to punish British collaborators from the State. The laws violated the terms of the Treaty of Paris that ended the revolution by calling for the confiscation of the property of those who remained loyal to the British government. Alexander Hamilton opposed the laws and advocated for respect for personal property and life, paving for a long-lasting friendship between the British and Americans.


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