Great Britain’s parliament passed into edict the Sugar Act on April 5, 1764. For many years, it was their prime focus of create strategies that would increase the wealth of that country. The edicts were therefore created so that they could collect revenue from the British colonies and from the Americas. Imported sugar and molasses were taxed. Unfortunately, this negatively affected New England’s rum production and eventually the trade operations of every other country, except Britain’s.
Meaning of Sugar Act
Sugar is used to make molasses and in turn, molasses is used to make rum; it is grown on the West Indian plantations. In the 1700s, it was highly lucrative to manufacture rum and this would mean great profits for Britain via taxation. As a result, they decided to create the laws and enforce it in their colonies. The Molasses Act was very effective in this regard. It was entrenched in the Navigation rules and regulations of 1733. Therefore, the significance of the Sugar Act is that it tapped into an area of great earnings and significant growth at that time.
Rationale of Sugar Act
The effects of the Sugar Act made produce in the Americas more expensive; nonetheless, this law was not fully supported or enforced. The people were upset about the unfairness of the policies down from the North. However, due to the Salutary Neglect, which was another policy, many officials ignored it and the violations. The true rationale of the edicts was to get the people in America and the other British colonies, to buy their products from Britain; as a result they created unfair taxes and policies on West Indian sugar aimed at the Americas.
With increased British martial controls, the administration was able to lower the taxes thresholds. They came down to half what it was before. For the duration of this time a lot of legal traders, now became violators of the law. In the eyes of the law they were smugglers. British admiralty courts were established and an adjudicator ruled over all presiding over those matters concerning trade violations. This meant that matters coming out of the colonies, no longer needed to be escalated to the colonial courts. For that reason, the hidden purpose of this edict was to shut down any other trade routes outside of those for the British maritime trade. That meant trade routes from the Spanish, the French and the Dutch colonies to New England. Any violators had their goods seized and the full arm of the law at their backs.
Paying off officials was prevalent during this time. These officials lived in the colonies and did not directly or in a timely manner benefit greatly from the revenues collected in Britain. This meant that coercion and fraud was rampant. Many people did all they can to extricate themselves from this unfair laws and practices, which was laid out by Britain. England wanted to take over the trade market; as a result, they also taxed printed calico and other foodstuff and beverages like cambric, coffee as well as wines. Other commodities including iron in addition to timber were also taxed.
Read also: The Stamp Act Crisis
Triangular Trade and Sugar Act
Britain had many colonies to support their economy. Having over thirteen Colonies, made it easy for them to have Triangular trade routes traversing the Atlantic. With the glut of raw materials, Great Britain took advantage of the lucrative trading, which bolstered their economy and did the opposite for their colonies. This drove the slave trade. As the consequences of the Act meant that there would be an increase in slavery in these regions. Because slaves were cheap labor, the ships crossed the Atlantic and docked in African ports to exchange goods for black slaves. These men, women and children were then carried to various plantations in the Americas and the West Indies. Molasses was then exported from these countries to the rum manufacturers.
Consequences of Sugar Act
The new regulations affected the people in the colonies by disturbing their trade and industry. In addition to that, there was legitimate concern of the development and implementation of sugar taxes without representation. The term American Revenue Act can also be used interchanging for the Sugar Act or the American Duties Act. During 1607-1763, the Salutary Neglect was an English policy that existed. It allowed many violations of the laws, whether through smuggling or bribing customs officials.
Needless to say, there was much resentment from the colonists in the West Indies and America; they had huge financial disadvantages, because of these laws. Many people agreed that these policies were detrimental to all the colonies. Revolts and uprisings occurred as the seeds of dissension were sown and widespread. In terms of the colonist’s reaction, Colonial America was on the brink of revolt, but the laws were more heavily enforced in the West Indies and more meticulously imposed. In the end, America got their independence from British rule after Declaration of Independence from Great Britain and American Revolutionary War.
Read also: Causes of the American Revolution