History of the United States
American Revolution
Colonial America

Where was the sugar act of 1764 affected by?



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American importers were not paying the excessively high duty that had been placed on Sugar (molasses) by the Molasses Act of 1733. They found it cheaper to pay bribes of a penny or so per gallon, to the customs collectors. When George Grenville became Prime Minister, he had Parliament overhaul the old act with a new Sugar Act, 1764. The new act lowered the tax on sugar entering the colonies, but it also created a new system for enforcing the act, making sure that the lowered duties would be collected. In New England, where molasses was a major trade item used in making various drinks as well as a sweetener, there was immediate concern. A Boston town meeting declared that the city would boycott (not purchase) all British imports to that colony. Other New England cities, including New York, followed Boston’s lead. American Colonists granted Parliament the right to regulate trade but the colonists declared that the Sugar Act was an attempt to raise money in the colonies, something that colonists believed only colonial legislatures could do. They pointed to the official title of the Sugar Act--The American Revenue Act of 1764. Hence, the Americans, for perhaps the first time, raised the cry that they could not be taxed by a political body that did not represent them. They elected representatives to their assemblies, but not to Parliament. The cry, “No taxation without representation” would become a rallying cry for those favoring independence. In 1766, the British government reduced the duty on sugar to one penny (what had been the “traditional” bribe), and protest in New England began to subside.