The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (190721).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
VIII. American Political Writing, 17601789.
§ 4. The Stamp Act Congress.
|With the resolutions, 5 memorials, and petitions of the Stamp Act Congress (October, 1765), we reach the first of the series of great state papers which, while of supreme value for the proper understanding of the constitutional position of the colonies, are also, in some respects, the most characteristic literary product of the Revolutionary period. Nowhere else in American literature does the peculiar gift of formal expression and logical exposition in politics show itself on so large a scale or in so great a cause, and in no country in the world has such expression moved so long and so consistently on a high plane, or voiced itself with so much dignity, condensed forcefulness, or formal beauty. For the most part the work of a few hands, and in some cases of composite authorship, the state papers of the American Revolution became, through their force of argument and sweep of phrase, the accepted statements of political faith, first for the patriot party, and then for the American people.