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Molasses Act [May 17/28, 1733] - History

Molasses Act [May 17/28, 1733] - History


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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 Avoirdupoize....

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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. [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....


Colonial molasses trade

The colonial molasses trade occurred throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the British colonies of the Americas. Molasses was a major trading product.

Molasses was produced via the exploitation of enslaved persons in sugar plantations in the Caribbean (also called the West Indies), in islands controlled by England (e.g., Jamaica and Barbados), Spain (e.g., Santo Domingo), and France (e.g., Martinique). The English colonies along the Atlantic (mainly the Thirteen Colonies) purchased molasses and used it to produce rum, primarily in distilleries in New England.


The Molasses Act of 1733

The Molasses Act, which was officially called the Sugar and Molasses Act of 1733, was one of a series of acts known as the Navigation Acts, which sought to cont rol the trade of the colonies in a way that would produce the most profit for England. This policy is called mercantilism and was followed by all of the colonial powers of Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. Mercantilism was a policy that sought to restrict a mother country's colonies from only trading with sister colonies also controlled by the mother country, and with the mother country itself. By doing so, goods and revenue would be kept within the realm of the mother country, enriching the mother country and preventing any leakage of profits away to foreign competitors.

In order to understand why the Molasses Act of 1733 had such an impact on the American colonies and helped precipitate the Revolutionary War, it is necessary to understand the central role of molasses to the colonial economy at the time. Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar cane refining industry and is created when sugar cane is boiled and distilled into sugar crystals. The leftover part after distillation is molasses, which was used as a sweetener in colonial days, as the main raw ingredient for the manufacture of rum and for various other industrial purposes. In fact, molasses was the most important sweetener in the United States until the 1880s, because it was cheaper than refined sugar.

Sugar cane was grown in large quantities in the British colonies in the Caribbean West Indies, especially in the islands of Barbados, Antigua and Jamaica. Sugar cane was distilled in the West Indies and the crystals were exported back to Europe. The remaining molasses was either distilled into rum or exported to the mainland colonies where it was also distilled into rum. Keep in mind that these Caribbean islands were also British colonies. So trade between these islands and the colonies on the North American mainland was inter-British colonial trade. The manufacture of rum was a huge industry in the colonies at the time. It was consumed at a rate of four gallons a year for every man, woman and child. This was actually one of the largest industries in New England. The city of Boston alone was already producing more than a million gallons of rum a year by the 1730s!

Not only was the manufacture of rum distilled from molasses an important industry in itself, but it was also intricately tied into every other important industry in the colonies. All colonial trade around the Atlantic Ocean was tied together around the transportation of goods from one place to another. Major trading areas included North Africa, Southern Europe, Northern Europe, England, North America, the British West Indies and the French West Indies.

Many triangles of trade existed between these various areas. For example, slaves would be transported from North Africa to the West Indies. The slaves were sold there and the merchants would buy molasses, sugar and rum. These were then transported to the North American colonies where they were sold for the cheap manufacture of rum. The rum was then purchased and exported back to Africa and traded for more slaves, beginning the process all over again. Triangles of trade existed between many different colonial areas controlled by Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain.

Money that was accumulated in America from this trade was used to buy manufactured goods such as cloth, furniture and hats from England. All of these industries were intricately tied together and supported one another. A collapse in one industry or a price surge in another, a surplus of goods in one colony or a new trade restriction by a colonial power, had wide ranging ripples throughout the entire Atlantic economy.

The Molasses Act - New England trade dependent on cheap Molasses

A very large trade network developed between the New England and middle colonies on the mainland and the French, Dutch and Spanish possessions in the West Indies. Molasses was produced in the British islands of Barbados, Antigua and Jamaica, but was also produced in the French West Indian islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Santo Domingo (now Haiti), as well as other Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese colonies. Molasses produced in the British West Indies was more expensive than molasses produced in the other islands, partly because the climate and soil of the French islands produced better sugar cane

Secondly, the French planters were forced to sell for lower prices because of a law in France that prevented them from exporting rum or molasses back to France, or from making rum at all. France had a very large domestic brandy making industry and in order to protect its brandy manufacturers, they prohibited the import and selling of rum in France. This made French sugar cane manufacturers more desperate to find willing buyers for their products so they lowered their prices. In addition, since the restriction on selling molasses to France put the French planters in a bind, the French government tried to create a market for molasses by making a law stating that New England fish could only be paid for with molasses! Why would they do that? Fish from New England was a huge import into the French islands, so the law created a market for molasses by force!

Colonists in North America of course bought the cheaper and superior molasses from the French West Indies, practically shutting out sugar cane manufacturers from the British islands. The colonists also had another incentive to trade with the French islands, instead of the British islands. The British islands had no use for the lumber, fish, flour, cheese and other goods that were the main exports of the colonies. They already had these in abundant supply. The French islands however, desperately needed these things and were eager to buy as much as the colonists could ship them. The colonies were also desperately in need of a market for their grains and livestock. Why? British law forbade them from selling these to England because these items were produced in great abundance in England already and Parliament wanted to eliminate any colonial competition to these home grown industries. See how complicated and intricately interwoven all of these industries were?


Molasses Act 1733

This was one of the first decisions of British Parliament that gave a real boost to organizers smuggling in New England colonies. Simultaneously it promoted corruption among customs officials. To crack down colonial trade with countries other than Britain, especially France, the government created a new on foreign molasses.

The Molasses Act of 1733 was enacted by the British Parliament on the 13 colonies of America with the purpose of protecting its sugar plantations in the West Indies. This act was not designed to raise revenue but it was part of England’s mercantile policy of the time and a continuation of the Navigation Acts. Molasses was imported in great quantities by the colonies and particularly by New England where it was used to manufacture rum which was then exported to the rest of the colonies it was a highly profitable and thriving business. Not only did the New England colonies imported molasses from Jamaica and Barbados but also from non-British plantations such as Santo Domingo and Martinique, colonies of Spain and France respectively. The British argued that their colonies in the West Indies produced enough quantity to supply its colonies.

Sugar cane plantations in the West Indies to manufacture the cane into sugar and molasses

British sugar cane growers could not compete successfully against the more fertile lands of French and Spanish colonies in the West Indies. Instead of fair trade, British producers wanted to protect their market and lobbied Parliament for a tax on foreign molasses. On December 25, 1733 the Molasses Act came into effect imposing a duty of 6d per gallon on molasses imported from non-British colonies.

Manufacturers of rum feared that supply of molasses and its higher price would affect its manufacturing capacity and therefore lose market share in an already competitive market. If the duty was paid it would amount to 100% of its value. Colonial businessmen bypassed this law by smuggling molasses from French and Spanish colonies at a cheaper price. The customary bribe to clear customs in New York and Massachusetts amounted to half a penny a gallon, this trade prospered for many years, yet the British authorities did not seriously enforce it.

The act collected £330 sterling in its first year, falling to £76 annually during the 1738-1741 period, well below the cost to administer it.

In 1763, Charles Townshend, then president of the Board and Trade, proposed to use the act to raise revenue from the colonies. He set to reduce the tax rate from 6d to 2d per gallon of molasses. The purpose was make traders pay the lower tax instead of smuggling and enforce its collection with the 1763 Hovering Act. The following year the Molasses Act was replaced by the Sugar Act setting the tax at 3d.


American Rum 15: The Molasses Act

It is difficult to understand this today, but in the eighteenth century the wealthiest part of the British Empire were the small islands of the Caribbean, which produced sugar, not the far larger and much more populated North American colonies. Those small islands were the central concern of the British government and for those islands long, expensive, bloody wars were fought against the other European Powers. Actually, the duties on sugar provided the British in land revenue with far more resources than all the taxes levied on the trade of the colonies.

The élite of the West Indies Planters amassed wealth on a colossal scale. After becoming so rich, they mostly went back to live in England and, as often in history, they wanted to achieve social respectability and political power. So they bought large estates and became Members of Parliament where around 40 of them constituted a powerful Sugar Lobby to defend their interests.

From the beginning of XVIII Century, the interests of West Indian planters were on a collision course with those of North American colonists and at the heart of the conflict were the trade relations between the Continental Colonies and the French West Indies. This is indeed one of the issues around which will revolve a great part of the history of American rum, and indeed of America, all through the century.

The French West Indies were made up of few small islands and of the bigger Saint Domingue, today’s Haiti. In the first decades of the XVIII Century, those islands became the greatest producers of sugar in the world, therefore they produced also huge quantities of molasses, and French planters didn’t know what to do with it. Unlike British planters, they could not turn most of their molasses into rum to sell on the great domestic market because it was forbidden by French law. Actually, rum production itself was not banned, what was banned was the export of rum to France, by far the biggest market possible.

French Planters were allowed to export rum to the little populated Canada, then a French colony, to Africa, where it was traded off for slaves, and to all foreign countries. But they all were little markets for such huge production of molasses. The overwhelming bulk of molasses was left unused and French planters were happy to sell it cheap to the only people who were keen to buy it, North American merchants. Therefore French molasses cost roughly half as much as the British one. In exchange for their molasses, French planters wanted mainly food for their many slaves and Americans supplied them with the fish which their seas had an abundance of, but also with rice and flour. Every tourist will notice that this exchange with food coming from the North is at the basis of Caribbean cuisine even now.

And then, staves, timber, work horses, in short, all that was needed by those islands specialized in sugar production. It was a perfect trade arrangement where the two parties involved sold what was in excess and, for them, of lesser value, while buying what they needed most and could not produce themselves.

The only real losers were the British West Indian Planters. Their molasses sold less and its

price tended to go down, whereas the price of the goods they bought from American merchants went up: they too needed food, timber and horses, they too could only buy from the North American colonies, and the increase in demand obviously pushed up the prices.

The Sugar Lobby reacted by promoting a veritable press campaign against North American colonists and their rum. By means of articles, pamphlets, speeches, their lack of patriotism was denounced, on the grounds that with their trade they enriched the enemy, France, while at the same time impoverishing their fellow countrymen. It was claimed that New England Rum was not only bad, it was harmful to their health, especially the health of the poor native Indians. Americans defended themselves, indeed they struck back on the moral ground, claiming that the legitimate interests of hundreds of thousands honest, God-abiding North American colonists should prevail over those of few incredibly wealthy and debauched Sugar Barons. But in London they counted for very little.

In 1733 Parliament approved the so called Molasses Act, imposing a duty of sixpence per gallon on molasses imported from non-British territories. This was not a revenue bill, it was effective prohibition because, if enforced, this duty would have doubled the pr ice of French molasses, putting them out of the colonial market.

On top of that, tariff barriers were imposed on the import of the American rum in the British Empire. In this way the only advantage that American rum had over the higher-quality West Indian rum, its low price, was nullified.

Parliament ’s approval of the Molasses Act was probably the first, significant rift between the Continental Colonies and the Mother Country. It was self-evident, in fact, that Parliament had not acted justly in the interest of the entire British Empire but had been pushed by a powerful lobby to defend only the interests of a small group. This wound would never be healed.

In the immediate future, however, there were no serious consequences. Of course, if enforced the Molasses Act would have destroyed the trade between the Continental Colonies and the French West Indies, causing great damage to the economy of all the Colonies and ruining many coastal towns. But the Molasses Act was not enforced, actually there was no real attempt to enforce it. Smuggling, which was already important, thrived and -in actual fact- trade went on as before.

-Article written by Marco Pierini-


American History The Revolutionary War

The Molasses Act of 1733
Although the British gave their colonies more freedom than the Spanish or French, they still made a number of laws that helped the businessmen in England more than the colonists. The Molasses Act of 1733 is an example of this.

Many New Englanders made a living by turning molasses and sugar into rum. The Molasses Act helped the sugar plantation owners on the islands of the British West Indies. A tax was placed on the sugar and molasses that came from the islands. On top of this, the law stated that traders in New England could only trade with the British Islands. Many businessmen had been trading with the French and the Dutch. Now these men would lose money. This made the New Englanders upset with the British.

The French and Indian War


The French fought a war against the colonists and the British over the land in America. This was started in 1754 and lasted until 1763. Europeans called this the Seven Years War.

Many Indians fought on the side of the French. The French had befriended the Indians through their fur trading.

The war ended with the British and colonists winning. France lost Canada and all of the French territory east of the Mississippi River except New Orleans.

This war changed the way of thinking for the colonists. During the war the colonists fought alongside the British Army. This taught the colonists how to fight as well as making the colonists realize that they no longer needed the British Army for protection. Another result of this war was the colonists learned they must work together to keep their land.

After the war many colonists moved across the mountains. They no longer feared the French would attack them.

Timeline for the French and Indian War

Governor Dinwiddie sent George Washington to tell the French to stop building forts in the Ohio Valley. The French paid no attention to the warning.

Washington built Fort Necessity.

Washington lost the Battle of the Wilderness. Washington warned Braddock that the French and Native Americans fought from behind trees instead of marching into battle. Braddock's army was surprised and Braddock was killed.

Seven thousand French peasants living in Nova Scotia (Arcadians) were rounded up and sent away from their homes by the British.

England and France formally declared war.

The French won battle after battle.

General Wolfe began leading the colonial armies. Fort Duquesne was captured.

Peace was made between the Native Americans in the Ohio Valley and the British.

The British defeated the French at Quebec.

The Peace of Paris awarded all of North America east of the Mississippi River except New Orleans, including Canada and Florida to the British.


This Week in History: May 17-23, 2021

1733 – England passes the Molasses Act, doubling the tariffs on rum and molasses imported to the colonies from countries other than British possessions.

1792 – The New York Stock Exchange is formed when 24 merchants sign the Buttonwood Agreement at 68 Wall Street.

1875 – In the first Kentucky Derby horse race, Oliver Lewis wins aboard Aristides in 2:37.75. The Derby was founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr, the grandson of William Clark (Lewis & Clark Expedition).

1883 – Buffalo Bill Cody’s first wild-west show premieres in Omaha, Nebraska. Cody died in 1917 at age 70.

1884 – Alaska becomes a U.S. territory following its purchase from Russia for $7 million. It was known as Seward’s Folly after Secretary of State William H. Seward signed the treaty with Russia.

1954 – The Supreme Court unanimously rules in Brown v Topeka Board of Education that racial segregation of children in public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, reversing the 1896 “separate but equal” Plessy v Ferguson decision.

1973 – The Senate Watergate Committee began its hearings. Watch the opening remarks of the committee.

1996 – President Clinton signs a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. Megan’s Law was named for 7-year-old Megan Kanka, who was raped and killed in 1994 by a repeat sex offender.

2000 – Thomas E. Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry surrender to police in Birmingham, Alabama. The two former Ku Klux Klan members were convicted of murder in the bombing of a church in 1963 that killed four young black girls. Blanton, now 82, is currently serving a life sentence. Cherry died in prison in 2004 at age 74.

2014 – Victor Espinoza, riding California Chrome, wins the 139th Preakness in 1:54.84. Espinoza also won the Preakness in 2002 and 2015. Watch Espinoza ride California Chrome to a win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, the first and second leg of the Triple Crown. The horse failed to win the Belmont Stakes.

1652 – Rhode Island enacts the first law declaring slavery illegal.

1896 – The Supreme Court affirms race separation in Plessy v Ferguson. Homer Plessy was arrested in New Orleans for sitting in a “whites only” railroad car. The Supreme Court ruled that separate facilities were constitutional as long as they are equal. Justice John Harlan was the lone dissenter on the Court.

1926 – Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanishes while swimming near Venice, California. She showed up a month later in Senora, Mexico, saying she had been kidnapped. Watch a video of McPherson’s speech on prohibition.

1927 – Andrew Kehoe blows up Bath Consolidated School in Michigan, killing 38 children and 2 teachers after killing his wife and setting their home on fire. Kehoe died in a second bombing later that day aimed at the school’s superintendent.

1953 – Jacqueline Cochran is the first woman to break the sound barrier, flying an F-86 Sabre fighter plane. She set more than 200 aviation records. Cochran died in 1980 at age 74.

1967 – Tennessee Gov. Ellington repeals the “Monkey Law,” upheld in the 1925 Scopes Trial.

1980 – Mt. Saint Helens erupts in the state of Washington. The eruption caused the deaths of 57 people and $3 billion in damage. Watch a USGS video of the eruption.

1983 – The Senate revises U.S immigration laws, gives millions of illegal aliens legal status under an amnesty program.

1998 – The U.S. Department of Justice and 20 U.S. states file an anti-trust case against Microsoft. Microsoft and the DOJ reached a settlement in 2001.

2010 – A Portland, Oregon, police officer was asked to leave the Red & Black Café by the co-owner who felt uncomfortable having a uniformed officer in his vegan restaurant. The café closed down in 2015.

1643 – Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Harbor form the United Colonies of New England.

1848 – Mexico signs the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, giving Texas to the U.S., and ending the Mexican-American War.

1862 – The Homestead Act is signed into law by President Lincoln, providing up to 160 acres of free land for settlement of West. A total of 1.6 million people claimed 420,000 square miles of government land.

1865 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis is captured by the Union Cavalry in Georgia. Davis held at Fort Monroe, Virginia, but he was released after two years.

1884 – The Ringling Brothers circus premieres in Wisconsin. The circus was started by the 5 Ringling Brothers. Ringling Brothers Circus merged with Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1907, and the circuses closed in 2017.

1913 – The California Alien Land Law passes, forbidding “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning agricultural land. The bill was primarily directed at Japanese immigrants.

1921 – Congress sharply curbs immigration through the Emergency Quota Act by setting a national quota system. Based on the quota formula, the number of immigrants fell from about 800,000 in 1920 to about 300,000 in 1921-1922.

1958 – The U.S. and Canada form NORAD (North American Air Defense Command). NORAD has tracked Santa at Christmas annually since 1955.

1999 – Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Selleck have an uncomfortable verbal conversation concerning gun control on Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show. Watch a video of Selleck being a total gentleman.

2005 – “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” brings in $50 million on its opening day. “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” brought in a (then) record $28.5 million when it opened on this day in 1999.

2018 – American actress Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry, youngest son of England’s Princess Diana and Prince Charles. The banished couple and their son live somewhere in California.

1639 – Dorchester Massachusetts, forms the first school funded by local taxes.

1874 – Levi Strauss markets blue jeans with copper rivets at the price of $13.50 a dozen.

1916 – The Saturday Evening Post features its first Norman Rockwell painting on the cover, entitled “Boy with Baby Carriage,” for which Rockwell was paid $75. Rockwell painted 321 covers over the next 47 years.

1926 – Congress passes the Air Commerce Act, which licenses pilots and planes.

1927 – Charles Lindbergh takes off from New York to cross the Atlantic Ocean in the “Spirit of St. Louis.” He landed in Paris the following afternoon.

1932 – Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean when she landed in Ireland the following day. She scheduled her flight to coincide with the 5th anniversary of Lindbergh’s flight.

1939 – The first regular airmail and passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean begins when the “Yankee Clipper” takes off from Port Washington, New York.

1959 – Ford wins the battle with Chrysler to call its new car “Falcon.” Ford produced the Falcon from 1960 to 1970. Watch the 1961 Ford Falcon commercial featuring the Peanuts gang.

1985 – The FBI arrests John A. Walker, Jr. His brother, son, and friend were all recruited in the spy ring. They were all convicted of spying for USSR. John would have been eligible for parole, but he died in prison in August 2014 at age 77.

2013 – Yahoo purchases Tumblr, a social networking website created by David Karp in 2007, for $1.1 billion.

2015 – David Letterman hosts the “Late Show with David Letterman” for the last time after 33 years on TV.

1881 – The American Red Cross is founded by Clara Barton in Washington, DC. Barton, who served as a nurse in the Civil War, led the Red Cross for 23 years. She died in 1912 at age 90.

1918 – The House of Representatives passes the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote. The bill was first introduced in Congress in 1878.

1922 – The cartoon, “On the Road to Moscow,” by American political cartoonist Rollin Kirby wins a Pulitzer Prize. It was the first cartoon awarded the Pulitzer.

1924 – Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnap 13-year-old Bobby Franks for fun. Franks was murdered by teenagers Leopold and Loeb, and both were sentenced to life in prison.

1956 – The U.S. detonates the first airborne hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean over Bikini Atoll. A B-2 bomber dropped the bomb from 55,000 feet and it detonated at 15,000 feet. The resulting explosion was estimated to be 4 miles in diameter. Watch a newsreel report of the historic test.

1998 – An expelled student, Kipland Kinkel, in Springfield, Oregon, kills 2 people and wounds 25 others with a semi-automatic rifle. Police also discovered that he killed his parents before the rampage.

2013 – Microsoft announces the release of Xbox One. Global sales are estimated at 49 million units.

1807 – Former Vice President Aaron Burr is tried for treason in Richmond, Virginia. It was alleged that Burr plotted to annex Spanish territories in Louisiana and part of Mexico to establish an independent territory. Burr was acquitted for lack of evidence that he acted on his plot. Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804.

1849 – Abraham Lincoln patents a buoying device. Lincoln is the only president to hold a patent.

1872 – The Amnesty Act removes voting and office-holding restrictions to secessionists who participated in the Civil War, except for 500 military officers. Congress passed the original restrictive act in May 1866.

1900 – The Associated Press organizes in New York City as a non-profit news cooperative.

1946 – The first U.S. rocket (WAC Corporal) to reach the edge of space is fired from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

1967 – “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” premieres on PBS and airs until 2001. Fred Rogers died in 2003 at age 74. Watch the show’s opening scene.

1977 – Janet Guthrie sets the fastest time on the second weekend of qualifying, becoming the first woman to earn a starting spot in the Indianapolis 500 since its inception in 1911.

1985 – U.S. sailor Michael L. Walker, the 22-year-old son of spy John Walker, Jr., is arrested for spying for USSR. He was convicted of spying and served 15 years of a 25-year sentence. He was released from prison in 2000 and is on probation. His father, spy John Walker, died in prison in 2014.

1992 – Johnny Carson makes his final appearance after 30 years as host of the Tonight Show. Watch Johnny Carson in his own words.

2002 – Chandra Levy’s remains are found in Washington, DC’s Rock Creek Park. She was last seen on April 30, 2001. California Congressman Gary Condit was questioned in the case due to his relationship with Levy. An illegal immigrant was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 60 years in prison in Levy’s murder.

2011 – An EF5 Tornado strikes Joplin, Missouri, killing 161 people, making it the single deadliest U.S. tornado since modern record keeping began in 1950. Then Vice President Joe Biden visited Joplin, expressing sympathy for the 161,000 people who died.

1923 – A team of police officers, led by Texas Ranger Cordell Walker, ambush bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow near their hide-out in Black Lake, Louisiana, killing them both. Watch a narrated black and white video of the aftermath.

1939 – The USS Squalus submarine sinks in the Gulf of Maine, drowning 26 sailors. The 33 remaining crew were rescued from a depth of 243 feet by divers using the newly developed Heliox air systems (helium and oxygen). The divers were later awarded the Medal of Honor.

1963 – NBC purchases the TV rights to the 1963 AFL championship football game for $926,000. (By contrast, ESPN acquired the rights to Monday Night Football in 2005 and paid over $1 billion to air 17 regular season games over 8 years.)

1985 – Thomas Patrick Cavanagh is sentenced to life in prison for trying to sell Stealth Bomber secrets to the Soviet Union for $25,000. He was paroled in 2001.

1992 – In Lisbon, Portugal, the U.S. and four former Soviet republics sign an agreement to implement the START missile reduction treaty that had been agreed to by the Soviet Union before it was dissolved.

2018 – NFL owners approve a new national anthem policy requiring football players to stand if they choose to be on the field for the pre-game ceremonies.


Molasses Act [May 17/28, 1733] - History

Unlike many modern revolutions, the American Revolution was not rooted in economic deprivation or in the struggle of an oppressed class against an entrenched elite. But this does not mean that the colonists did not suffer from serious grievances.

The Revolution was the product of 40 years of abuses by the British authorities that many colonists regarded as a threat to their liberty and property. But people do not act simply in response to objective reality but according to the meaning that they give to events. The Revolution resulted from the way the colonists interpreted events.

The American patriots were alarmed by what they saw as a conspiracy against their liberty. They feared that the corruption and the abuses of power by the British government would taint their own society. And, further, they were troubled by the knowledge that they had no say over a government three thousand miles away.

1733 : The Molasses Act, which levied a stiff tax on rum, molasses, and sugar produced in the British West Indies for sale to the colonies, produced vigorous opposition on the grounds that it sought to protect English economic interests at the colonists' expense.

1750 : After Parliament passed the Iron Act, which impeded the development of iron manufacturing in the colonies, Benjamin Franklin published a treatise denouncing the absurdity of restraining the colony's economic growth.

1751 : The British government vetoed colonial laws that would prohibit convicts from entering the colonies, leading Benjamin Franklin to suggest that the colonists ship rattlesnakes to Britain.

1754 : For the fourth time since the 1680s, Britain and France go to war. The conflict is known as the Seven Years' War in Europe and the French and Indian War in North America. When it ended in 1763, France ceded Canada and the Ohio River Valley to British rule.

1763 : To prevent the colonists from rushing into territories vacated by the French and provoking conflict with the Indians, Parliament adopted the Proclamation of 1763, forbidding the colonists from purchasing land west of the Appalachians. To enforce the Proclamation, the royal government stations 10,000 troops in the colonies--the first time a standing army has been stationed in the colonies in peacetime.

Britain also ordered western settlers to vacate Indian land and restricted Indian trading to traders licensed by the British government. For the first time, westward expansion was placed in the hands of royal officials.

1764 : To maintain the army and repay war debts, Parliament decided to impose charges on colonial trade. It passed the Sugar Act, imposed duties on foreign wines, coffee, textiles, and indigo imported into the colonies, and expanded the customs service.

Britain required colonial vessels to fill out papers detailing their cargo and destination. The royal navy patrolled the coast to search for smugglers, who were tried in special courts without a jury.

1764 : The Currency Act prohibited colonial governments from issuing paper money and required all taxes and debts to British merchants to be paid in British currency.

1765 : To increase revenues to pay the cost of militarily defending the colonies, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a tax stamp on legal documents, almanacs, newspapers, pamphlets, and playing cards. This was the first direct tax Parliament had ever levied on the colonies and a violation of the principle that only the colonies' legislative assemblies could impose taxes. Suspected violators were tried in admiralty courts without juries.

Colonists boycotted British goods and intimidated stamp distributors into resigning. They protested the Stamp Act on two grounds: that it represented taxation without representation and that it deprived colonists of the right to trial by jury. Outside of Georgia, no stamps were ever sold. London merchants ultimately persuaded Parliament to repeal the act.

The Stamp Act made many Americans realize for the first time that the British government could act contrary to the colonies' interests.

1765 : Parliament unanimously passed the Declaratory Act, asserting its right to make laws governing the colonists.

1765 : Parliament approved the Quartering Act, requiring colonial governments to put up British soldiers in unoccupied buildings and provide them with candles, bedding, and beverages. When the New York Assembly resists, the British governor suspended the assembly for six months.

1767 : Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend, imposed new duties on imports of glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea to the colonies. The Townshend Acts also expanded the customs service. Revenue from the acts paid the salaries of colonial governors and judges and prevented colonial legislatures from exercising the power of the purse over these officials.

1770 : British soldiers under Captain Thomas Preston fired on a Boston crowd, killing five and wounding six. In a subsequent trial, in which John Adams defended the soldiers, all but two of the soldiers were acquitted of murder.

After discovering that the Townshend duties have raised only 21,000 pound sterling (while sales of British goods in the colonies have fallen more than 700,000 pounds), the British government repealed all the Townshend duties, except the duty on tea, to remind the colonists of Parliament's power to tax.

1773 : Parliament passed the Tea Act that authorized the East India Company to bypass American wholesalers and sell tea directly to American distributors. Cutting out the wholesalers' profit would make English tea cheaper than tea smuggled in from Holland.

Colonists in Boston, disguised as Indians, boarded three vessels and dumped 342 canisters of British tea into Boston harbor.

The British government responded harshly it closed Boston harbor to trade modified the Massachusetts colonial charter forbid town meetings more than once a year called for the billeting of British troops in unoccupied private homes provided for trials outside the colonies when royal officials are accused of serious crimes and named a general to serve as Massachusetts' royal governor.

1774 : The Quebec Act enlarged French Quebec to cover the area as far west as the Mississippi River and as far south as the Ohio River. French law prevailed in this area and the Catholic Church would have a privileged status there.

1774 : Virginia took the lead in opposing British policies. Local committees called for the support of Boston and the elimination of all trade with Britain.

1774 : In September, the first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to orchestrate resistance to British policies. It declared that all trade with Britain should be suspended.

1775 : British General Thomas Gage was ordered to use military force to put down challenges to royal authority in the colonies. To curtail colonial military preparations, he dispatched royal troops to destroy rebel supplies at Concord, Massachusetts.

On the night of April 18, Paul Revere and William Dawes alerted patriots of the approach of British forces. Revere was seized and Dawes was turned back at Lexington, Mass., but the Concord militia moved or destroyed the supplies and prepared to defend their town.

On April 19, British redcoats arrived at Lexington and ordered 70 armed "Minutemen" to disperse. A shot rang out and drew fire from the British soldiers. Eight Americans were killed. The British moved on to Concord, destroyed the supplies they found, then returned to Boston, as American patriots fired from behind hedges and walls. British losses were 65 dead, 173 wounded, and 26 missing. American casualties were 49 dead and 46 wounded or missing.

1775 : In May, the second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia and appoints George Washington commander-in-chief.

1776 : On July 2, the Continental Congress approved a resolution that begins: "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent."


Tom Standage: It Was the Tax on Rum, Not Tea, that Provoked the Colonists' Ire

American independence owes much to a dispute over a drink, but it wasn't tea.

Even someone with the most tenuous grasp of history will be familiar with the Boston Tea Party. The short version goes like this: In 1773, the British government imposed a tax on the tea shipped to its American colonies. The colonists objected, marched onto a ship in Boston Harbor and tipped its cargo of tea into the water in protest. Similar tea parties followed in other ports, and relations between London and the colonies soured, leading to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1775 and ultimately to American independence.

The full story, however, is more complicated. For although the schism between Britain and its colonies did indeed begin over the taxation of a drink, the drink in question was not tea. It was rum.

The dispute began decades earlier, in 1733, when the British government passed the Molasses Act. This imposed a tax on all molasses imported into the colonies from French sugar-producing islands in the West Indies. (Molasses is the leftovers from the sugar-making process.)

New England distillers used molasses to make rum, which was consumed locally and exported to West Africa, where it was used as a currency to purchase slaves. The resulting Atlantic traffic in rum, sugar and slaves is sometimes called the"triangular trade."

The imposition of a heavy tax on French molasses was intended to encourage the American colonists to buy their molasses from the British sugar islands instead. But British molasses was regarded as inferior and was not available in sufficient quantities. At the time, rum accounted for 80% of New England's exports and was the preferred drink of the colonists, who each consumed an average of four gallons a year. So the Molasses Act struck directly at the prosperity -- economic and alcoholic -- of the colonists.

Despite the tax, the colonists continued to rely on French molasses as before.

This undermined respect for British law and set a dangerous precedent: Henceforth, the colonists felt entitled to defy other laws that seemed unreasonable. The British government, for its part, did almost nothing to enforce the law. This changed in 1764, when the government passed a new Sugar Act -- which lowered the 1733 tax but made it enforceable -- and began collecting duty on molasses to pay off the debts incurred during the French and Indian War.

New England rum distillers led the opposition to the new law by organizing a boycott of imports from Britain. The cry of"no taxation without representation" became a popular slogan. Advocates of independence, known as the Sons of Liberty, began to mobilize public opinion in favor of a break with Britain. They often met in taverns and distilleries. John Adams, the revolutionary leader and future president, noted in his diary that he attended a meeting of the Sons of Liberty in 1766 in a distillery where the participants drank rum punch, smoked pipes and ate cheese and biscuits.


Watch the video: Lesson 1 Molasses Act of 1733 (June 2022).


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