of the Molasses Act, 1733
In the exchange of fish, lumber and agricultural products for the sugar, molasses and rum of the West Indies, the northern English colonies in America early found their most important and most lucrative trade. Moreover, it was by means of this trade that the money for the purchase of manufactured goods in England was mainly obtained.
The adoption of a more liberal commercial policy by France, however, in 1717, enabled the sugar of the French West Indies to displace the British product in European markets, and to compete successfully in the markets of the English colonies; while the prohibition of the importation of rum into France, as a protection to the production of brandy, forced the producers of molasses in the French colonies to seek a market in New England and New York, where molasses, little produced in the English West Indies, was much in demand.
The prosperity of the French colonies led to numerous protests from planters in the British sugar islands, and in 1731 a bill to prohibit the importation into Great Britain or the American colonies of any foreign sugar, molasses or rum passed the House of Commons, but was rejected by the Lords. The object of the bill was attained, however, by the passage, in 1733, of the so-called Molasses Act, by which practically prohibitory duties were imposed upon the before-mentioned articles. The act was systematically disregarded by the English colonies, and remained largely a dead-letter. The Molasses Act was to continue in force for five years; but it was five times renewed, and by the Sugar Act of 1764 was made perpetual.
17/ 28, 1733
17/ 28, 1733
An act for the better securing and encouraging the trade of his
Majesty's sugar colonies in America.
WHEREAS the welfare and prosperity of your Majesty's sugar colonies
in America are of the greatest consequence and importance to the trade,
navigation and strength of this kingdom: and whereas the planters of the
said sugar colonies have of late years fallen under such great
discouragements, that they are unable to improve or carry on the sugar
trade upon an equal footing with the foreign sugar colonies, without some
advantage and relief be given to them from Great Britain: for remedy
whereof . . . be it enacted . . .. That from and after . . . [December 25,
1733,] . . . there shall be raised, levied, collected and paid, unto and
for the use of his Majesty . . ., upon all rum or spirits of the produce
or manufacture of any of the colonies or plantations in America, not in
the possession or under the dominion of his Majesty . . ., which at any
time or times within or during the continuance of this act, shall be
imported or brought into any of the colonies or plantations in America,
which now are or hereafter may be in the possession or under the dominion
of his Majesty . . ., the sum of nine pence, money of Great Britain, . . .
for every gallon thereof, and after that rate for any greater or lesser
quantity: and upon all molasses or syrups of such foreign produce or
manufacture as aforesaid, which shall be imported or brought into any of
the said colonies or plantations . .,, the sum of six pence of like money
for every gallon thereof . . .; and upon all sugars and paneles of such
foreign growth, produce or manufacture as aforesaid, which shall be
imported into any of the said colonies or plantations . . .. a duty after
the rate of five shillings of like money, for every hundred weight
IV. And be it further enacted . . ., That from and after . . .
[December 25, I733,] . . . no sugary paneled syrups or molasses, of the
growth, product and manufacture of any of the colonies or plantations in
America, nor any rum or spirits of America, except of the growth or
manufacture of his Majesty's sugar colonies there, shall be imported by
any person or persons whatsoever into the kingdom of Ireland, but such
only as shall be fairly and bona fide loaden and shipped in Great Britain
in ships navigated according to the several laws now in being in that
behalf, under the penalty of forfeiting all such sugar, paneles, syrups or
molasses, rum or spirits, or the value thereof, together with the ship or
vessel in which the same shall be imported, with all her guns, tackle,
furniture, ammunition, and apparel....
IX. And it is hereby further enacted . . ., That in case any sugar
or paneles of the growth, produce or manufacture of any of the colonies or
plantations belonging to or in the possession of his Majesty . . ., which
shall have been imported into Great Britain after . . . June 24, I733,] .
. . shall at any time within one year after the importation thereof, be
again exported out of Great Britain, . . . all the residue and remainder
of the subsidy or duty, by any former act or acts of parliament granted
and charged on such sugar or paneles as aforesaid, shall without any delay
or reward be repaid to such merchant or merchants, who do export the same,
within one month after demand thereof.
X. And it is hereby further enacted . . ., That from and after . .
. [June 24, 1733,] . . . for every hundred weight of sugar refined in
Great Britain . . ., which shall be exported out of this kingdom, there
shall be, by virtue of this act, repaid at the customhouse to the
exporter, within one month after the demand thereof, over and above the
several sums of three shillings and one shilling per hundred, payable by
two former acts of parliament, one of them made in the ninth and tenth
years of the reign of his late Majesty King William the Third, and the
other in the second and third years of the reign of her late Majesty Queen
Anne, the further sum of two shillings, oath or solemn affirmation as
aforesaid, being first made by the refiner, that the said sugar so
exported, was produced from brown and muscovado sugar, and that as he
verily believes, the same was imported from some of the colonies or
plantations in America belonging to and in the possession of the crown of
Great Britain, and that as he verily believes the duty of the said brown
and muscovado sugar was duly paid at the time of the importation thereof,
and that the same was duly exported....
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