The Two Penny Act…
was a law that affected the compensation of Anglican ministers in the Virginia colony. The Anglican Church was the only recognized church in Virginia. Enacted in 1758, it sprouted a controversy out of which arose the Parson’s Cause trial, which is regarded as an important event in the history of American Independence.
The Parson’s Cause was actually an important legal and political dispute in the Colony of Virginia. It is/was often viewed as an important event leading up to the Revolution. Oddly enough, the unknown Patrick Henry argued in favor of colonial rights in the case. It didn’t hurt that his father, Colonel John Henry, was the judge who presided over the court case and jury that decided the issue.
After King George III vetoed the law, his veto caused an uproar in the colony. Many Virginia legislators saw the king’s veto as a breach of their legislative authority. A suit had already been filed, and young Patrick argued,
“that a King, by disallowing Acts of this salutary nature, from being the father of his people, degenerated into a Tyrant and forfeits all right to his subjects’ obedience.”
The jury awarded the plaintiff (Rev. Maury) one penny in damages. The important thing is that the award effectively nullified the Crown veto. The fear (Crown), intimidation (Power), and doubt (regarding our ability to self-govern) was gone forever. Thus setting the stage for the showdown known as the American Revolution. The people would never again be suppressed by the Crown. Not without extreme bitterness.