Sugar Act


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Sugar Act. The popular name of an act of the British Parliament, officially known as the molasses act. In 1733 the British government laid a prohibitive duty on all sugar and molasses imported into North America from the islands of France, for the purpose of compelling the people of New England particularly to purchase their sugar and molasses from the planters in the English West Indies. In 1763, when Lord Grenville became prime minister, he introduced into Parliament two measures of vast importance to the American colonists. The first was the revival of the old molasses act; the second was the notorious STAMP ACT. The immediate effects of the reinforcement of the molasses act were seen in the trade relations between the New England colonies and the Sugar RefineryFrench West Indies. The New England people depended largely upon the products of their fisheries, and a considerable portion found a ready market in the French West Indies. Those possessions in turn depended upon the molasses raised therein, and the French government, in order to force a market for the sugar, forbade the planters paying for the fish with anything except molasses. The trade between the New England colonies and the French West Indies, accordingly, becoming a matter of great importance to the people of both sections, and the reinforcements of the original act could have but two results: either the New-Englanders would have to pay the exorbitant duty on the French West Indies molasses, or have it seized without ceremony or compensation.



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