Sugar Act Explained — Section 10

April 5, 1764

Section 10 of the Sugar Act of 1764 explains how foreign cloths, or textiles, should be measured to accurately assess the taxes on them.

Sugar Act, 1764, Date, Taxes, Reaction, Grenville Acts, AHC

George Grenville, Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, was responsible for the Sugar Act of 1764, starting the movement in the 13 Colonies against Taxation Without Representation.

Understanding the Sugar Act of 1764

This entry is part of a series that explains the Sugar Act of 1764, including, rules, regulations, and penalties. To learn more, see History of the Sugar Act and Facts About the Sugar Act. Vocabulary, key people, and primary documents related to the Sugar Act are listed at the bottom of this article.

Section 10 — Specifications for Textiles (Foreign Cloths)

X. And it is hereby declared and enacted, That every piece of callico intended to be charged with the duty herein beforementioned, if of the breadth of one yard and a quarter or under, shall not exceed in length ten yards; and if above that breadth, shall not exceed six yards in length, and that every piece of cambrick and French lawn shall contain thirteen ells each, and shall pay duty for the same in those proportions for any greater or lesser quantity, according to the sum herein before charged upon each piece of such goods respectively.


Section 10 of the Sugar Act of 1764 explains the specific requirements and taxation rules for different types of textiles and how taxes should be calculated, based on the dimensions of the fabric being imported. The key points are:

  • Calico Dimensions and Duties
    • For calico that is up to one yard and a quarter wide, each piece should not be longer than ten yards.
    • For calico wider than one yard and a quarter, each piece should not be longer than six yards.
    •  The duties on calico will be calculated based on these specified lengths.
  • 2. Cambric and French Lawn Dimensions and Duties
    • Each piece of cambric and French lawn should contain thirteen ells (an ell is a traditional unit of length).
    • Duties will be charged proportionally based on these dimensions for any greater or lesser quantity.
  • Proportional Duties — The duties for these textiles will be calculated according to the rates specified earlier in the act for each type of fabric.


While Section 10 covers how to measure foreign cloth (textiles) to accurately assess the taxes on them, the Sugar Act significantly affected the trade of foreign cloth by introducing new regulations and duties. 

Elimination of Refunds on Shipments of Textiles

The Sugar Act eliminated the drawbacks (refunds of customs duties) on European and Asian textiles that were exported from Great Britain to the American Colonies. This meant that merchants could no longer reclaim the customs duties they had paid on these goods when they re-exported them to the American Colonies.

By eliminating these refunds, the Act effectively increased the cost of foreign textiles for Americans. Merchants passed the new cost on to their consumers by raising prices, making them more expensive. This was intended to make British-made textiles more attractive to American consumers.

New Taxes on Textiles

The Sugar Act placed new taxes on specific imported textiles, including calico (a type of cotton fabric), cambric (a fine, dense cloth), and French lawns (a lightweight linen fabric). These taxes increased the cost of these foreign textiles.

Mercantile System

Parliament hoped the new taxes would encourage merchants to deal in British-made textiles and American consumers to buy them. This followed the economic theory of Mercantilism and was intended to keep the British Empire self-sufficient.

Potential for Colonial Textile Manufacturing

Although the Act raised concerns that high prices might lead the colonies to develop their own textile manufacturing capabilities, this possibility was considered remote due to the high cost of labor in the colonies. British officials believed that as long as the cost of manufacturing textiles in the colonies remained high, Americans would continue to rely on imported textiles.


These terms and definitions provide more context for students studying the Sugar Act. For more on the Sugar Act as it relates to the AP US History curriculum, see Sugar ACT APUSH Review.

  • Breadth — The width of a fabric.
  • Calico — A type of cotton fabric printed with a pattern.
  • Cambric — A fine, thin, and white linen or cotton fabric.
  • Charged — Subjected to a tax or duty.
  • Duties — Taxes imposed on imports and exports.
  • Ell — A traditional unit of length used in measuring fabric, equivalent to 45 inches or 1.143 meters.
  • Exceed — To go beyond a specified limit.
  • Intended — Planned or meant to be.
  • Length — The measurement or extent of something from end to end.
  • Piece — A portion or length of fabric.
  • Proportions — The relationship in size or amount between different things.
  • Quantity — The amount or number of something.
  • Respectively — Separately or individually in the order mentioned.
  • Sum — The total amount resulting from the addition of two or more numbers or amounts.
  • Textiles — Types of cloth or woven fabric.

Key People

  • Samuel Adams — Adams helped lead opposition to the Sugar Act in Massachusetts. Went on to become a leader of the Boston Sons of Liberty and one of the most influential men behind the movement for independence.
  • George Grenville — Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Responsible for the design of the Sugar Act and introducing it to Parliament.
  • Stephen Hopkins — Governor of Rhode Island. Critic of the Sugar Act and its impact on the Rhode Island economy and colonial rights.
  • James Otis — Early advocate of the rights of Americans as British subjects. Argued against Writs of Assistance (1761) in the Paxton Case.

Primary Documents

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Sugar Act Explained — Section 10
  • Date April 5, 1764
  • Author
  • Keywords Sugar Act, What did Section 10 of the Sugar Act do
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date June 21, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update June 7, 2024