Sugar Act Explained — Section 9

April 5, 1764

Section 9 of the Sugar Act of 1764 explains what to do when the sale of wine that has been confiscated does not raise enough money to pay the taxes. Instead of selling the wine, it was to be destroyed.

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 9 — Insufficient Funds from the Sale of Foreign Wine

IX. Provided also, That if the money offered for the purchase of such wine shall not be sufficient to discharge the duty and charges aforesaid, then, and in every such case, the collector, or other proper officer, shall cause the wine to be staved, split, or otherwise destroyed, and shall return the casks or other package wherein the same was contained to such importer.


Section 9 of the Sugar Act of 1764 explains how customs officials should handle situations where the sale of seized wine does not cover the required taxes and costs. The key points are:

  1. Insufficient Sale Proceeds — If the money from selling the seized wine is not enough to cover the unpaid duties and charges.
  2. Destruction of Wine — The customs collector or proper officer must destroy the wine by breaking the casks or otherwise rendering it unusable.
  3. Return of Containers — The empty casks or containers must be returned to the importer.


Under the Sugar Act, British Customs Officials were supposed to auction seized goods the proceeds were supposed to be used to pay the shipping taxes. Section 9 provides instructions for Customs Officials, in case the bid at auction failed to cover the shipping taxes. In the case of wine, it was supposed to be destroyed. This was done to keep a merchant from illegally importing win, allowing it to be seized, and then buying it at a low price during an auction. While it might seem shortsighted to earn nothing from the sale of the wine, even at a low bid, the Sugar Act included provisions that levied monetary fines on merchants. These fines covered the costs of the taxes.


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.

  • Charges — Costs or expenses incurred.
  • Collector — A customs officer responsible for collecting duties and taxes.
  • Casks — Large barrels used for storing liquids, especially alcoholic drinks like wine.
  • Destroyed — Rendered unusable or ruined.
  • Duties — Taxes imposed on imports and exports.
  • Importer — A person or company that brings goods into a country for sale.
  • Insufficient — Not enough to meet a requirement or need.
  • Offered — Presented for acceptance or rejection.
  • Package — The container in which goods are stored or transported.
  • Proceeds — Money obtained from a sale.
  • Proper Officer — A designated official with the authority to enforce customs regulations.
  • Seized — Taken possession of by force or legal authority.
  • Staved — Broken into pieces.
  • Sufficient — Enough to meet a requirement or need.
  • Wine — Alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes or other fruits.

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 9
  • Date April 5, 1764
  • Author
  • Keywords Sugar Act, What did Section 9 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