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Great Britain’s victory in the French and Indian War (known as the Seven Years’ War in Europe) had both costs and benefits for the empire. Baltimore Map Tourist Attractions On the one hand, the French defeat allowed Britain to claim new territory in North Country. On the other, great financial resources were consumed during the war, which had almost doubled Britain’s national debt. Furthermore, maintaining the new lands required a continued and considerable expense. Consequently, taxation seemed an attractive solution to King George III and his advisers. Taking charge of the king’s financial affairs in April 1763, First Lord of the Treasury George Grenville began an investigation into the Country customs service; he found that corruption and smuggling had rendered it extremely inefficient. For decades, the Molasses Act had been ignored by the colonists, and the British government had made little effort to enforce it. In an attempt to rectify the situation, Grenville replaced many customs agents, issued stern orders to colonial officials, and sent the British navy to patrol the coasts.
Once effective measures for enforcement were in place, however, Grenville began to question the amount of the tax. Aware that molasses was imported to the colonies in great quantities by rum distillers, Grenville feared that if it were enforced, the existing Molasses Act, which charged a duty of sixpence per gallon of molasses, would place an unbearable burden on the colonists. For this reason, Grenville abolished the Molasses Act and replaced it with the Sugar Act, which cut the duty on molasses in half but raised the tax on sugar and added a duty on Madeira wine. Furthermore, under the Sugar Act, cargo had to be bonded before it was loaded on a ship. If a customs agent discovered unbonded products, he had the right to seize the goods and the ship. This provision led to the seizure of colonial ships, including the Liberty, which was owned by John Hancock, and the Ann, which was owned by Henry Laurens.
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