Sugar Act was the first law passed by the British parliament that resulted in The American Revolution. On April 5, 1764 King George the Second and British Parliament passed a law which imposed heavy taxation on the people of New England. This law was also called American Revenue Act or American Duties Act. The main purpose of the law was to raise revenue for the British Government.
Background of Sugar Act of 1764
British parliament passed Molasses Act in 1733 to impose taxes on the colonist. This law proved to be a failure as most of the colonist refused to pay the taxes or bribed the custom officers so that they don’t have to pay taxes. Colonists also smuggled their product to other colonial powers like French and Dutch thus it saved them from paying taxes to British Crown.
In 1763 French and Indian War almost ended. British government was under a huge debt after the war. The debt before war was £75,000,000 which increased to £800,000,000 in 1764.
George Grenville decided that huge army must be maintained for the security of British Empire. He proposed a plan under which British Empire will tax the colonist and raise £78,000 per year.
Features of the Sugar Act, 1764
As per the law colonists were expected to pay taxes to British Empire as the empire was providing them security. They were also restricted from exporting their items like lumber to other colonial powers like Dutch and French. These products can only be exported to Britain. If any colonist was accused of smuggling his trial would be conducted by the custom officials.
Protest against the Sugar Act
The protests against Sugar Act were mostly concentrated in New York and Boston. Samuel Adams and James Otis are regarded as the most important icon of the protest. The main demand of the colonists was to remove the law because New England ports were suffering heavy losses due to the law.
The other reason for protest was “taxation without representation”. Many colonies believed that they were not represented in distant British Parliament. They were not given same rights as most of the Englishmen had at that time. Therefore laws taxing the colonists were completely immoral and unconstitutional.
Sugar Act was repealed in 1766.