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Drinking HistoryFifteen Turning Points in the Making of American Beverages$
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Andrew Smith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231151177

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231151177.001.0001

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An Essential Ingredient in American Independence

An Essential Ingredient in American Independence

(p.23) 2 An Essential Ingredient in American Independence
Drinking History

Andrew F. Smith

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes events leading up to Britain’s passage of the Sugar Act in 1764, which imposed duties on North American imports of molasses, a key ingredient in the production of rum by New Englanders. The duties were intended to help pay for some of the British military’s added expenses in North America. Because it lowered the tax on molasses to be paid by American colonies, most members of parliament believed that the colonists would be happy with the law. However, colonial protests caused such a furor that the law was repealed in 1765. The Sugar Act was only the first salvo of the tax war that would ignite the Revolutionary War in 1775. The remainder of the chapter discusses how rum enabled the colonists to destroy American Indian societies, rum’s role in the slave trade, and how drunkenness associated with rum was a precipitating factor in the rise of the temperance movement, which led to Prohibition in the twentieth century.

Keywords:   Britain, taxation, import duties, Sugar Act, molasses, rum, North American colonies, New England, Revolutionary War

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