With increased freedom, American newspapers reacted with incredible scorn when the British passed the Stamp Act of 1765. The law levied a tax on the paper used by printers to publish their newspapers and by lawyers to write their legal documents. Newspapers reacted angrily against the tax, noting that it had been levied without any colonial representation in Parliament. Although a similar tax had been in force in England for some time, and some colonial governments had taxed their residents, the Stamp Act helped newspapers sway public opinion against the British government. Even some writing in newspapers in England agreed. In the Jan. 21, 1775 issue of the Edinburgh Evening Courant, Lord Chatham wrote, “You have no right to tax America . I rejoice that America has resisted.” Added Lord Camden, “My researchers have more and more convinced me, that you have no right to tax America . I will maintain it with my last breath.” 26
What this coverage indicates is that when it came to business reporting, the newspapers of the 18 th century were primarily concerned with how commerce was being affected by the policies of the government.