Sugar Act Explained — Section 28

April 5, 1764

Section 28 of the Sugar Act of 1764 defines the rules for shipping iron and lumber from the American Colonies to Great Britain. The rules concerned Americans because they mandated all shipments of iron and lumber had to be exported to Britain.

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. There is also a list of primary documents related to the Sugar Act listed at the bottom of this article.

Section 28 — Regulations for Iron and Lumber

Original Text

XXVIII. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the twenty ninth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and sixty four, no iron, nor any sort of wood, commonly called Lumber, as specified in an act passed in the eighth year of the reign of King George the First, intituled, An act for giving further encouragement of the importation of naval stores, and for other purposes therein mentioned, of the growth, production, or manufacture, of any British colony or plantation in America, shall be there loaden on board any ship of vessel to be carried from thence, until sufficient bond shall be given, with one surety besides the master of the vessel, to the collector or other principal officer of the customs at the loading port in a penalty of double the value of the goods, which condition, that the said goods shall not be landed in any part of Europe except Great Britain; which bonds shall be discharged in the manner hereafter mentioned; that is to say, for such of the said goods as shall be entered for, or landed in, Great Britain, the condition of the bonds shall be, to bring a certificate in discharge thereof within eighteen months from the date of the bond; and within eighteen months from the date of the bond; and within six months for such of the said goods as shall be entered for, or landed in, any of the British colonies or plantations in America; which respective certificates shall be under the hands and seals of the collector or other principal officer of the customs resident at the port or place where such goods shall be landed, testifying the landing thereof; and for such of the said goods as shall be entered for, or landed at, any other place in America, Africa, or Asia, to bring the like certificate within twelve months, under the common seal of the chief magistrate, or under the hands and seals of two known British merchants residing there; or such bond or bonds shall be discharged, in either of the said cases, by proof upon oath made by credible persons, that the said goods were taken by enemies, or perished in the seas.

Explanation

Section 28 of the Sugar Act of 1764 explains the regulations and conditions for exporting iron and lumber from the American Colonies. It covers the proper documentation and compliance to prevent the unauthorized landing of goods in Europe to maintain British control over the trade of iron and lumber. The key points are:

  1. Effective Date — Starting on September 29, 1764.
  2. Goods Covered — Iron and types of wood commonly called lumber, as specified in an earlier act passed during the reign of King George I. This refers to the Naval Stores Act of 1721.
  3. Bond Requirement — These goods cannot be loaded onto a ship for export until a bond is given to the customs officer at the loading port.
    1. Surety — The bond must include one surety (a person who takes responsibility) in addition to the ship’s master.
    2. Penalty — The bond amount must be double the value of the goods.
  4. Condition of the Bond — The bond ensures that the goods will not be landed in any part of Europe except Great Britain.
  5. Discharge of Bond
    1. Landing in Great Britain — A certificate must be provided within eighteen months, signed and sealed by the customs officer at the port of landing, confirming the goods were landed.
    2. Landing in British Colonies in America — A certificate must be provided within six months, signed and sealed by the customs officer at the port of landing, confirming the goods were landed.
    3. Landing in Other Places (America, Africa, or Asia) — A certificate must be provided within twelve months, either under the common seal of the chief magistrate or under the hands and seals of two known British merchants residing there.
  6. Exception — The bond can be discharged if it is proven under oath by credible persons that the goods were taken by enemies or perished at sea.

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.
  • Certificate — An official document attesting a fact, in this case, confirming the landing of goods.
  • Chief Magistrate — The highest-ranking official in a local government.
  • Collector — A customs officer responsible for collecting duties and taxes.
  • Credible — Able to be believed; convincing.
  • Customs — The government agency responsible for regulating the import and export of goods and collecting duties.
  • Discharge — To fulfill the conditions of a bond, thereby releasing the obligation.
  • Effective Date — The date when a law or regulation begins to apply.
  • Europe — The continent where Great Britain is located.
  • Goods — Items or products for sale or trade.
  • Iron — A metal commonly used in manufacturing and construction.
  • King George I — King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1714 to 1727.
  • Laden — Loaded with cargo.
  • Lumber — Types of wood prepared for use in building and carpentry.
  • Magistrate — A civil officer or judge who administers the law.
  • Merchants — People or companies involved in wholesale trade.
  • Oath — A solemn promise, often invoking a divine witness, regarding one’s future action or behavior.
  • Penalty — A punishment or sanction for breaking a law or rule.
  • Perished — Died or were destroyed, often used for goods lost at sea.
  • Port — A harbor where ships load and unload cargo.
  • Proof — Evidence or argument establishing a fact or the truth of a statement.
  • Responsible — Required to answer for one’s actions; accountable.
  • Seal — A stamp or mark used to authenticate a document.
  • Ship — A vessel used for transporting goods across water.
  • Surety — A person who takes responsibility for another’s performance of an undertaking, such as appearing in court or paying a debt.
  • Testifying — Giving evidence or proof.
  • Value — The monetary worth of something.
  • 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 28
  • Date April 5, 1764
  • Author
  • Keywords Sugar Act, What did Section 28 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 14, 2024

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