Sugar Act Explained — Section 42

April 5, 1764

Section 42 of the Sugar Act of 1764 explains how the proceeds of the sale of seized goods are to be divided and provides legal and financial protection for officials helping enforce 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 42 — Distribution of Penalties and Forfeitures

XLII. And it is hereby further enacted, That all penalties and forfeitures so recovered there, under this or any former act of parliament, shall be divided, paid, and applied, as follows; that is to say, after deducting the charges of prosecution from the gross produce thereof, one third part of the net produce shall be paid into the hands of the collector of his Majesty’s customs at the port or place where such penalties or forfeitures shall be recovered, for the use of his Majesty, his heirs and successors; one third part to the governor or commander in chief of the said colony or plantation; and the other third part to the person who shall seize, inform, and sue for the same; excepting such seizures as shall be made at sea by the commanders or officers of his Majesty’s ships or vessels of war duly authorized to make seizures; one moiety of which seizures, and of the penalties and forfeitures recovered thereon, first deducting the charges of prosecution from the gross produce thereof, shall be paid as aforesaid to the collector of his Majesty’s customs, to and for the use of his Majesty, his heirs and successors, and the other moiety to him or them who shall seize, inform, and sue for the same; any law, custom, or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding; subject nevertheless to such distribution of the produce of the seizures so made at sea, as well with regard to the moiety herein before granted to his Majesty, his heirs and successors, shall think fit to order and direct or by any order or orders of council, or by any proclamation or proclamations, to be made for that purpose.

Explanation

Section 42 of the Sugar Act of 1764 outlines how the penalties and forfeitures recovered in the British colonies should be distributed. It ensures that the proceeds are fairly divided among the Crown, colonial governors, and those who assist in enforcing the Navigation Acts. The key points are:

  1. Deducting Charges — After deducting the prosecution charges from the total amount recovered from penalties and forfeitures:
  2. Distribution of Net Proceeds
    1. One Third to the Crown — One third of the net proceeds will go to the collector of His Majesty’s customs at the port where the penalties or forfeitures were recovered. This amount is for the use of the king, his heirs, and successors.
    2. One Third to the Governor — One third will go to the governor or commander in chief of the colony or plantation.
    3. One Third to the Seizer — The final third will go to the person who seized, informed, and sued for the penalties or forfeitures.
  3. Exception for Seizures at Sea — For seizures made at sea by commanders or officers of His Majesty’s ships or vessels of war:
    1. One Moiety to the Crown — Half of the net proceeds, after deducting prosecution charges, will go to the collector of His Majesty’s customs for the use of the king, his heirs, and successors.
    2. One Moiety to the Seizer — The other half will go to the person or persons who seized, informed, and sued for the penalties or forfeitures.
  4. Special Provision — The distribution of proceeds from seizures at sea is subject to any specific distribution orders that may be made by the Crown, through orders of council or proclamations.

Context

The Sugar Act provided incentives and protections for British Customs Officers and officers in the British Royal Navy. In doing so, the law incentivized these officials to excessively enforce the law. The strict rules and the financial incentives offended American merchants, who believed that they were being unfairly targeted and punished. The situation was escalated by the fact that the confiscated goods, once sold, provided revenue to the British government and its agents, rather than the local economy.

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.

  • Applied — Put to a specific use.
  • Charges of Prosecution — Expenses incurred in the legal process of recovering penalties and forfeitures.
  • Collector — A customs officer responsible for collecting duties and taxes.
  • Commander in Chief — The highest-ranking officer in charge of the military or a region.
  • Custom — Established practice or official way of doing something.
  • Deducting — Subtracting or taking away an amount from a total.
  • Distribution — The action of sharing something out among recipients.
  • Forfeitures — Penalties involving the loss of property or money due to a breach of law or regulations.
  • Gross Produce — The total amount recovered before any deductions.
  • Heirs — People legally entitled to the property or rank of another upon that person’s death.
  • Inform — To provide information about illegal activities.
  • Moiety — Half or one of two equal parts.
  • Net Produce — The amount remaining after deductions have been made.
  • Penalties — Punishments or sanctions for breaking a law or rule.
  • Proclamation — An official public announcement.
  • Prosecution — The legal process of charging someone with a crime and bringing them to trial.
  • Recovered — Obtained again or brought back to a normal condition after being lost or taken.
  • Seize — To take possession of by force or legal authority.
  • Sued for — Instituted legal proceedings to claim compensation or to enforce a right.
  • Usage — The way in which something is used or understood.
  • Vessels of War — Military ships.

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 42
  • Date April 5, 1764
  • Author
  • Keywords Sugar Act, What did Section 42 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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