Sugar Act Explained — Section 7

April 5, 1764

Section 7 of the Sugar Act of 1764 explained the new regulations should be enforced according to processes laid out in the previous 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 7 — Handle Taxes According to Procedures in the Navigation Acts

And it be hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said rates and duties hereby charged upon such foreign white or clayed sugars, foreign indigo, foreign coffee, wines, wrought silks, bengals, and stuffs, mixed with silk or herbs, callico, cambricks, French lawns, and foreign molasses or syrups, imported into any British American colony or plantation shall be raised, levied, collected, and paid, in the same manner and form, and by such rules, ways and means, and under such penalties and forfeitures (not otherwise altered by this act) as are mentioned and expressed in the said act of parliament, made in the sixth year of the reign of his late majesty King George the Second, with respect to the raising, levying, collecting, and payment, of the rates and duties thereby granted; and that the aforesaid duties hereby charged upon British coffee and pimento, exported from any British colony or plantation, shall be raised, levied, collected, and paid, in the same manner and form, and forfeitures, as are mentioned and referred unto in an act of parliament, made in the twenty fifth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for the encouragement of the Greenland and Eastland trades, and for the better securing the plantation trade, with respect to the raising, levying, collecting, and payment of the rates and duties thereby granted upon the several goods therein particularly enumerated: and that all powers, penalties, provisions, articles, and clauses, in those acts respectively contained and referred unto (except in such cases where any alteration is made by this act) shall be observed, applied, practised, and put in execution, for the raising, levying, collecting, and answering, the respective rates and duties granted by this act, as fully and effectually, as if the same were particularly and at large re-enacted in the body of this present act, and applied to the rates and duties hereby imposed; and as fully and effectually, to all intents and purposes, as the same could have been at any time put in execution, for the like purposes, with respect to the rates and duties granted by the said former acts.

Explanation

Section 7 of the Sugar Act of 1764 describes how the new taxes and duties will be implemented, using existing procedures and regulations. It explains the administrative processes involved in the enforcement of the Sugar Act and how they expand on previous legislation regulating trade and taxation in the American Colonies. The key points are:

  1. Application of Existing Procedures — The new rates and duties on various imported goods (such as sugar, indigo, coffee, wines, silks, and others) will be collected in the same way as previously established by the 1733 Molasses Act.
  2. Specific Goods Taxed — These goods include foreign white or clayed sugars, foreign indigo, foreign coffee, wines, wrought silks, bengals, and stuffs mixed with silk or herbs, calico, cambricks, French lawns, and foreign molasses or syrups.
  3. British Goods Taxed — Similarly, the new duties on British coffee and pimento exported from British Colonies will follow the procedures set by the Molasses Act.
  4. Penalties and Rules — All the powers, penalties, rules, and regulations from the previous acts will be applied to the new duties, except where changes have been made under the new Sugar Act.
  5. Full Implementation — The provisions of the previous acts will be fully enforced to ensure the effective collection of the new taxes as if they were explicitly included in the Sugar Act.

Context

The Sugar Act was designed to extend the existing Navigation Acts, such as requiring goods to be shipped via British-made vessels. However, it added provisions for enforcement, including:

  • 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.

  • Articles — Specific sections or clauses in a legal document.
  • Cambricks — A fine, thin, and white linen or cotton fabric.
  • Callico — A type of cotton fabric printed with a pattern.
  • Clauses — Distinct sections or provisions in a legal document.
  • Duties — Taxes imposed on imports and exports.
  • Encouragement — Support or promotion of a particular activity or trade.
  • Enumerated — Specifically listed or mentioned.
  • Forfeitures — Penalties involving the loss of property or money due to a breach of law or regulations.
  • Indigo — A blue dye obtained from certain plants, used in textiles.
  • Intituled — An archaic spelling of “entitled,” meaning given a title or name.
  • Levy — To impose or collect (a tax).
  • Molasses — A thick, dark syrup produced during the refining of sugar.
  • Observed — Followed or adhered to.
  • Penalties — Punishments or sanctions for breaking a law or rule.
  • Perpetual — Continuing forever or for an indefinite period.
  • Pimento — A type of spice, also known as allspice, commonly used in cooking.
  • Practised — Carried out or performed regularly.
  • Provisions — Specific clauses in a legal document or law.
  • Rates — The amount of a charge or payment relative to some basis (e.g., per gallon).
  • Silks — Fine, soft fabric produced by silkworms, often used in clothing.
  • Sugar — A sweet crystalline substance obtained from various plants, used as a sweetener.
  • Ways and Means — Methods and resources for accomplishing something, especially in terms of raising revenue.

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 7
  • Date April 5, 1764
  • Author
  • Keywords Sugar Act, What did Section 7 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 5, 2024

Taxonomies