Disputes on Sovereignty During the American Revolution 305 acknowledgement, in a criticism of British policies, that: “In every government there must be a supreme absolute authority lodged somewhere . . . to which all members of that society are subject, for, otherwise there would be no supremacy, or subordination, that is, no government at all” (Hamilton, 1775: 16). The more radical Sam Adams expressed a similar view during the War of Independence: “I believe that in every kingdom, state, or empire there must be, from the necessity of the thing, one supreme legislative power with authority to bind every part in all cases the proper object of human laws” (Cushing, 1908: IV, 37). British imperialists and American patriots agreed that a stable state needed to be governed by an agreed sovereign power, but they increasingly differed profoundly over the extent and particularly over the location of this sovereign power. When the Westminster parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765 American critics promptly raised the alarm and insisted that Britain had no constitutional right to impose such an internal tax on the colonies because once accepted as a constitutional exercise of power by the Westminster parliament, the colonies could never be sure that it would not be followed by many other acts that would destroy their ability to exercise authority over their internal affairs through the powers they believed were vested in their local legislative bodies. In their view, the power to levy an internal tax on the American colonies was a prerogative that belonged to the colonial assemblies because only in these legislatures were the colonists represented and any tax raised was a voluntary gift of the people. Hence, “No Taxation without Representation” became a powerful rallying cry across the colonies. Nine colonies sent delegates to a Stamp Act Congress in New York and a flood of pamphlets and newspaper articles, and public resolutions insisted that only their own assemblies could impose an internal tax on the colonists. In order to bring pressure to bear on Britain, there were outbreaks of attacks on Stamp officers and joint decisions taken by colonial assemblies to boycott imported British goods (Weslager, 1976). Even while the Stamp Act was merely under discussion at