Disputes on Sovereignty During the American Revolution 303 they had migrated as free men and had carried with them across the Atlantic the historic and prescriptive rights of free-born Englishmen. These rights and privileges had been guaranteed by the terms of their royal charters and they could defend them with appeals to the common law, immemorial customs, Magna Carta, England’s ancient constitution, the law of God and nature, and eventually to the universal rights of man (Goldsworthy, 1999: 204-213; Grey, 1978: 843-893; Reid, 1976: 177-215; Reid, 1986-1993: I, 159-167). These various appeals were rarely seen as competing alternatives, but rather were regarded as mutually reinforcing defenses of the sovereignty of the law (Reid, 1976: 177-215; Reid, 1986-1993: III, 79-86, 107-125). I. Critical Differences About Sovereignty Within a mere two years after victory over France had been achieved in the Seven Years’ War a serious political and constitutional dispute arose between Britain and its mainland American colonies over the decision by the British government and parliament to produce a Stamp Act, that imposed an internal revenue-raising tax on the colonies for the first time. As a tax on the paper used in press publications and legal contracts and documents, it was seen as an attack on liberty and one that could prove costly to avoid. There were other lesser reasons for the friction between Britain and these American colonies, such as an amendment to the trade in sugar, but fundamental to all of these was the disagreement about the nature, extent and location of sovereignty within the British empire. William Blackstone, in his immensely influential first volume of his Commentaries on the Laws of England, stressed the importance of an accepted sovereign authority in any state that valued its authority and the liberties of the people. No matter what form of government a state might possess and however it originated, “there must be in all of them a supreme, absolute, irresistible and uncontrolled authority, in which . . . the rights of sovereignty reside”(Blackstone, 1765-1769: I, 49).