The Declaratory Act (1766)


In 1766 the British parliament, having just repealed the Stamp Act, passed the Declaratory Act. This act asserted the right of the British parliament to pass laws for the American colonies, “in all cases whatsoever”. The Declaratory Act had no immediate impact on the American colonies but it was a sign of parliament’s determination to govern them as it saw fit.


“Several of the houses of representatives 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.

[They] 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; 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.

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 parliament 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.”