In the time leading up to the USA's Revolutionary War, this was a slogan used by the revolutionaries to describe the state of Britain's control over them. Britain taxed the colonies it owned, but did not allow them any representation in parliament. Actually, the worst thing the Britons could have done would be to give them representation. One or two representatives from the colonies would be easily outweighed by the many representatives from Britain itself. What's more, it would give the Britons an excuse to raise taxes. So, don't scream about taxation without representation.

Sugar and Currency Acts (circa 1764)

The Sugar Act (Revenue Act) revised the existing system of customs regulations and laid new duties on certain foreign imports into the colonies
The Currency Act effectively outlawed colonial issues of paper money.

Stamp Act (circa 1765)

Based on laws established in England for more than a century, the Stamp act forced anyone who purchased printed materials to pay a tax. Anyone who purchased a newspaper or pamphlet, made a will, transferred land, bought dice or playing cards, needed a liquor license, accepted a government appointment, or borrowed money would be forced to pay the tax.
This was the first non-regulatory tax put on the American Colonies, and was met with much resistance.

Townshend Acts (circa 1767)

The Townshend Acts replaced the repealed Stamp Act and put a broader tax on goods. The tax was levied on items imported into colonies from Britain, and they were designed to raise the salaries of royal officials in the colonies.

Tea Act (circa 1773)

The Tea Act enabled the East India Tea Company to sell Tea to the American Colonies at a lower price because tax paid on other tea would be kicked back to them. The Act was an attempt to establish a monopoly on tea by the British owned company, and resulted in the infamous Boston Tea Party

For more historical fun, see Civil Rights Rulings (Circa 1960's)

Taxation Without Representation is the motto that is currently on Washington, D.C.'s license plates. It refers to the fact that DC pays federal taxes without getting a federal representative.

"So?", I can hear you saying. Well, here's the thing: based on all other parts of the United States, it should be either both or neither -- not just one. All fifty states both pay federal taxes and get two senators and a numer of representatives proportional to their population. The territories owned by the US (American Samoa, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, etc) are not represented in Congress, but neither do they have to pay federal taxes. DC is unique in that it is the only territory that pays taxes but has no representative in congress1

Advocates for DC rights seized upon this motto and stuck it on DC's license plates in 2000, obviously alluding to the American Revolutionary meanings mentioned above. While license plates are prohibited from carrying "political messages", it was determined that this was not a political message, but rather a simple statement of fact. Some had wanted to say "No Taxation Without Representation", but that was deemed too political. President Clinton, during the waning days of his office, had his limo's plates replaced with the new plates. President Bush (that's "dubyah" Bush), an opponent of the DC state's rights movement, replaced them with blank DC plates.

Obviously, a license plate isn't going to change anyone's mind; rather, it's more of an attempt to have the problem be noticed by people who wouldn't have otherwise heard of it. Whenever a DC car goes on a road trip, other people may notice its license plate and be moved to try and figure out why DC would choose such an odd slogan. In essence, every car with DC plates has gotten a bumper sticker (albeit in license plate form) that conveys its message wherever it goes. A truly subversive and devious campaign.

1: OK, you got me. While DC has no representative in the Senate, they do have a "shadow representative", who can't vote, but may participate in debates. She (Eleanor Holmes Norton) has little influence in the House.

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