Molasses Act
modification of the Sugar Act


The Sugar and Molasses Act was a British law originally passed in 1733. In 1764 the Act was updated to maintain revenues in line with other revenue laws.

The Molasses Act was passed to change a pattern of trade in the American Colonies. It placed a duty of sixpence on each gallon of molasses imported into British colonies from areas not ruled by Britain, and also put duties on imported sugar and rum. Molasses was used to make rum, and New England had a rich rum industry. Because of lower prices, the New Englanders bought more rum in the French West Indies than in the British West Indies. Planters in the British West Indies thus requested duties on molasses in hopes of curbing the trade with the French. But New England smugglers avoided paying the duties.

Contributor: Pauline Maier, Ph.D., William R. Kenan, Jr., Prof. of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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