MOLASSES TRADE was the keystone of colonial commerce, as it supplied a product that enabled the colonists to offset their unfavorable balance of trade with England. Except for experimental attempts to produce molasses locally from corn, the source of supply was the West Indies. It centered at first in the English sugar colonies in Barbados and Jamaica, but by the early eighteenth century it had shifted to the other West Indies, such as Spain's Santo Domingo and France's Martinique.
The main significance of molasses was to provide a "money cargo," almost as current as cash. Once it was exported from the islands, there was little trade in molasses as such. Its real potency came once the New England distillers turned it into rum. Most important, it served as the basis for the triangular trade in rum, slaves, and molasses. New England traders carried rum to Africa in exchange for slaves. These slaves were transported and sold to the West Indies to work in the sugar plantations that produced the molasses. Traders then returned with molasses to New England and sold the goods to rum producers.
At first the trade was unrestrained except for local taxes, but in 1704 Parliament confined the exportation of molasses to England or its colonies. In order to force a British monopoly of the molasses trade on the colonies, Parliament passed a Molasses Act (1733), which unsuccessfully attempted to eliminate trade with the foreign West Indies by prohibitive taxes. At first colonists tried to protest such measures. Rather than comply with these taxes, however, colonial merchants found it far simpler to smuggle molasses, beginning a robust clandestine trade in the good that lasted several decades.
When the British tried to assert their influence over the colonies following the French and Indian War, the new prime minister George Grenville began a strict policy of customs law enforcement. Parliament revived the Molasses Act as the Sugar Act of 1764. This act created strong customs enforcement of duties on molasses imported into the colonies on non-British ships, in effect granting a monopoly of the molasses trade to British West Indies sugar planters. Though colonial protests against this act resulted in a lowering of the tax, the heavy fines and penalties frustrated the colonial commerce in imported sugar and molasses. Independence freed the thirteen colonies from such restraints, but hampered their trade with the British West Indies. Modifications of the law permitted the direct importation of molasses, but the Navigation Acts continued to limit American shipping until 1830.
Lawrence A.Harper/h. s.
"Molasses Trade." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 8, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/molasses-trade
"Molasses Trade." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved December 08, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/molasses-trade
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.