- Sugar Act
Amer. Hist.a law passed by the British Parliament in 1764 raising duties on foreign refined sugar imported by the colonies so as to give British sugar growers in the West Indies a monopoly on the colonial market. Cf. Navigation Act.
* * *(1764) British legislation to raise revenue from North American colonies.A revision of the unenforced Molasses Act of 1733, it imposed new duties on sugar and molasses imported into the colonies from non-British Caribbean sources and provided for the seizure of cargoes violating the new rules. The act was the first attempt to recoup from the colonies the expenses of the French and Indian War and the cost of maintaining British troops in North America. The colonists objected to the act as taxation without representation, and some merchants agreed not to import British goods. Protests increased with passage of the Stamp Act.
* * *▪ Great Britain (1764), in U.S. colonial history, British legislation aimed at ending the smuggling trade in sugar and molasses from the French and Dutch West Indies and at providing increased revenues to fund enlarged British Empire responsibilities following the French and Indian War. Actually a reinvigoration of the largely ineffective Molasses Act of 1733, the Sugar Act provided for strong customs enforcement of the duties on refined sugar and molasses imported into the colonies from non-British Caribbean sources. The act thus granted a virtual monopoly of the American market to British West Indies sugar planters. Early colonial protests at these duties were ended when the tax was lowered two years later. The protected price of British sugar actually benefited New England distillers, though they did not appreciate it. More objectionable to the colonists were the stricter bonding regulations for shipmasters, whose cargoes were subject to seizure and confiscation by British customs commissioners and who were placed under the authority of the Vice-Admiralty Court in distant Nova Scotia if they violated the trade rules or failed to pay duties. Owing to this act, the earlier clandestine trade in foreign sugar, and thus much colonial maritime commerce, were severely hampered.
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