Sugar Act Explained — Sections 2 and 3

April 5, 1764

Sections 2 and 3 of the Sugar Act of 1764 levied new taxes on coffee and pimento that were exported from the American Colonies. These were added to the list of Enumerated Goods that were required to be shipped per the Navigation Acts.

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 2 and 3 — Taxes on Coffee and Pimento

II. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twenty ninth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and sixty four, there shall also be raised, levied, collected, and paid, unto his Majesty, his heirs and successors, for and upon all coffee and pimento of the growth and produce of any British colony or plantation in America, which shall be there laden on board any British ship or vessel, to be carried out from thence to any other place whatsoever, except Great Britain, the several rates and duties following; that is to say,

III. For every hundred weight avoirdupois of such British coffee, seven shillings.

For every pound weight avoirdupois of such British pimento, one halfpenny.

And after those rates for any greater or lesser quantity of such goods respectively.


Sections 2 and 3 of the Sugar Act of 1764 add more details about the taxes to be imposed on certain goods exported from the American Colonies. The key points are:

  • Effective Date — The taxes will take effect on September 29, 1764.
  • Coffee and Pimento — The Sugar Act specifies new taxes on coffee and pimento (allspice) that are grown in any British Colony in America.
  • Taxed when Loaded for Shipment — These goods will be taxed when they are loaded onto any British ship or vessel in the American Colonies for transport to any destination except Great Britain.

Taxes on Coffee and Pimiento

Good or ProductTaxes
British coffeeFor every hundred weight avoirdupois, seven shillings.
British pimientoFor every pound weight avoirdupois, one halfpenny.


Enumerated Goods were specific items that the Navigation Acts required to be shipped only to ports in England or other English colonies. This was supposed to ensure control over colonial trade and maximize revenue from these goods, per the British Mercantile System in Colonial America. The Sugar Act expanded the list of Enumerated Goods and added taxes on them. These goods were important to the Colonial Economy and Trade.

Madeira Wine

The Sugar Act imposed a new tax on Madeira Wine, which was previously imported duty-free. This tax was set at £7 per ton. The intention was to break the monopoly that Madeira Wine had in the colonial market and encourage the purchase of cheaper wines from English merchants.

Foreign Wines

New taxes were placed on other foreign wines. By taxing these wines, the British government aimed to control and benefit from the Colonial Wine Trade, making foreign wines more expensive compared to British wines.

Coffee, Pimiento, Foreign Indigo, and Foreign Sugar

Additional taxes were levied on coffee, pimiento (allspice), foreign indigo, and foreign sugar. These goods were commonly traded items, and taxing them increased revenue from colonial imports while protecting British products.

Lumber and Iron

The Act required that lumber and iron bound for European ports be shipped to England first, so the shipments could be verified. Although this was more a regulatory measure than a direct tax, it increased the cost of trading these goods.

Foreign Molasses

The existing tax on foreign molasses was reduced from 6 pence to 3 pence per gallon. Despite the reduction, this tax was still seen as prohibitive by many colonists who relied on cheaper, smuggled molasses for rum production and other uses.

Foreign Rum

The importation of foreign rum was prohibited. This intended to eliminate competition for American rum producers, giving Britain more control over the colonial market and Rum Distilling Industry.

Impact on Colonial Trade

The expansion of Enumerated Goods impacted the American Colonies in several ways, including:

  • Economic Burden — These new taxes and regulations created significant economic burdens on colonial merchants and consumers, increasing the costs of many goods and disrupting established trade patterns, including the Triangular Trade System.
  • Control of Trade — By taxing and regulating these Enumerated Goods, Parliament looked to exert greater control over colonial trade, ensuring England maintained the economic benefits from the American Colonies, under the Mercantile System.
  • Revenue Generation — The primary goal was to raise money for the British Treasury, particularly to cover the costs of maintaining a Standing army in America and managing the British Empire’s debts and expenses.


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.

  • Avoirdupois — A system of weights used in the British Imperial System.
  • British Ship or Vessel — Ships registered in Britain or belonging to British subjects.
  • Halfpenny — A former British coin worth half of a penny.
  • Laden — Loaded onto a ship or vessel.
  • Shilling — A former British coin and monetary unit equal to one twentieth of a pound or twelve pence.

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 — Sections 2 and 3
  • Date April 5, 1764
  • Author
  • Keywords Sugar Act, What did Sections 2 and 3 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 4, 2024