Sugar Act Explained — Section 26

April 5, 1764

Section 26 of the Sugar Act of 1764 explains how merchants can reclaim bond for non-enumerated goods.

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 26 — Bond for Non-Enumerated Goods

XXVI. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said bond directed to be given by this act with respect to such non-enumerated goods, shall continue in force for one year from and after the completion of the voyage; and in case no fraud shall appear within that time, it shall be lawful for the commissioners of his Majesty’s customs, or any four or more of them, to direct the said bond to be delivered up.

Explanation

Section 26 of the Sugar Act of 1764 outlines the conditions for the bond required for non-enumerated goods. It explains that a bond is used to ensure fraud prevention and provides a clear process for releasing the bond after no fraud has been detected. The key points are:

  • Duration of Bond — The bond required for transporting non-enumerated goods will remain in force for one year after the completion of the voyage.
  • No Fraud — If no evidence of fraud is found within that year.
  • Release of Bond — The commissioners of His Majesty’s customs, or any four or more of them, are authorized to release the bond after this period.

Context

The Sugar Act put an elaborate system in place that was intended to verify and track each shipment of goods to the American Colonies. The system ended Salutary Neglect by enforcing the Navigation Acts and supported Mercantilism in the colonies. The system also included:  

  • Documentation — The Sugar Act introduced an elaborate system of bonds and cockets to accurately document the cargo of vessels and ports of call. This system was meant to make it more difficult for merchants to engage in smuggling by providing a detailed paper trail that customs officials could use to verify the legality of goods being traded.
  • Naval Enforcement — Naval officers were instructed to assist in collecting customs duties and patrolling American waters smugglers. This was intended to establish ongoing enforcement of the Sugar Act, however, many officers abused their authority. This contributed to the Gaspee Affair (1772).
  • Admiralty Courts — Accusations of violating the Sugar Act were to be prosecuted in the Admiralty Courts. These courts did not use juries, and the judges had full authority. Parliament considered these courts more reliable than common law courts and would ensure strict enforcement of the law. However, the financial incentives provided to judges by the Sugar Act increased the likelihood they would seize cargo regardless of the evidence.
  • Customs Officer Accountability — The Sugar Act required British Customs Officers to perform their duties in person or forfeit their jobs. Before this, Customs Officers usually lived in England and hired someone in the American Colonies to perform the duties of the position. Requiring Customs Officers to live in the Colonies was intended to reduce corruption and increase effectiveness. However, customs officers were given immunity from counter-suits by merchants, encouraging them to enforce the regulations without fear of legal repercussions.
  • Colonial Governor Reporting — Colonial Governors were required to report on smuggling. They were also required to swear an oath that they would enforce the Sugar Act.

Vocabulary

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.

  • Authority — The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.
  • Bond — A formal agreement to pay a certain amount as a guarantee.
  • Commissioners — Officials in charge of a government department, in this case, customs.
  • Completion — The action of finishing something.
  • Customs — The government agency responsible for regulating the import and export of goods and collecting duties.
  • Duration — The time during which something continues.
  • Enforced — Kept in effect or implemented.
  • Evidence — Information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.
  • Fraud — Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.
  • Non-Enumerated Goods — Goods not specifically listed in the earlier acts.
  • Release — The act of freeing something from confinement or obligation.
  • Voyage — A long journey involving travel by sea.

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 26
  • Date April 5, 1764
  • Author
  • Keywords Sugar Act, What did Section 26 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 11, 2024

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