The Sugar Act is often overshadowed by its infamous cousin: the Townshend Act and its tax on tea. But the outcome of the Sugar Act, instituted on this day in 1764, is significant enough to stand alone in American history. Though it did not have the flair of war-painted men seasoning the Boston Harbor, the imposition of the Sugar Act marks one of the first times the colonists gathered together to protest Parliament’s encroaching authority.

The British Parliament instituted the Sugar Act for the reason most taxes are imposed: to fill empty coffers. But the act was also intended “for better securing and encouraging the trade of His Majesties’ sugar colonies in America”. The tax guaranteed the British West Indies a monopoly in the American market, forcing shippers to pay outrageous fees and every colonist to spend more money on everyday items (like molasses).

Continue reading on