The Sugar Act of 1764 was a revision of the Molasses Act 1733, whereby colonial importers of molasses were to pay tax on foreign molasses imports. The act itself signified a reinstitution of mercantilist policy by the British government upon the American colonies. It gave greater powers to custom officials through ‘writs of assistance’. These were general search warrants which did not have an expiry date and allowed customs officials to enter property they believed might contain smuggled goods. The tax itself bypassed the Colonial Assemblies and therefore was seen to undermine colonial rights. It birthed the famous catch phrase ‘no taxation without representation’ professed by John Otis. It also raised revolutionary fervour in regards to the notion of salutary neglect whereby the British government had not interfered with American colonial matters for 150 years, but now were raising duties from American imports. The tax itself was reinstated in an attempt to recoup the costs incurred by the British army after the French-Indian War and created much opposition in the colonies.
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