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Sugar Act As a Cause of the American Revolution: Arguments For and Against

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Rationale: This topic was chosen because the revolutionary war is often blamed on the creation and implementation of the sugar act. The sugar act caused mass protests against the crown when it was levied on the colonists. The tax was added in response to the French Indian War. It was added on top of many other mounting taxes and acts place against the colonies leading to a growing hatred of Britain. This topic is worthy of investigation because the sugar act is often viewed as the cause of the revolution but it was only one of many acts levied on the colonies. This topic is also important because many students are taught the idea that the Sugar Act led to the American Revolution in schools. Although there is no direct connection to the topic I wanted to dig deeper into the topic. This topic is unique because it is somewhat subjective but there is a lot of documentation from this time that allows it to be proven or disproven. In general, the exact cause of the revolutionary war is uncertain but determinable. The Sugar Act may be what caused the war but a deeper investigation into at what point the Patriots decided to go to war with the British in an attempt to form a new country.

Methodology: I would first do a high-level analysis looking at textbooks and other works that combine many sources. Once I did that I would look for primary sources such as a letter or other article that shows when the colonial militia decided to go to war with the British. Then once I had collected the primary sources I would group them into categories based on when they were written and who wrote them. Then I would analyze the credibility of each source. Any source that is viewed as an outlier or otherwise invalid would be discarded. I would then research secondary sources and repeat the same process as for the process used for primary sources to determine validity. Then I would look at when the most influential leaders suggested revolution and compare that to when the sugar act was implemented. I would then look to ensure that their decision was solely based on the sugar act, not those under them encouraging them to and them simply caving at the same time as the implementation of the sugar act. All of this would be done to ensure that there is true causation between the sugar act and the revolutionary war rather than a mere correlation in time.

Using this data I would compare what time all the primary sources urge for or show their intent for revolution. I would also use secondary sources to improve the validity of my argument. I would then look at other reports that exist on similar subjects to ensure that my findings are valuable. I would also ensure that my research did not overlook any major findings of other researchers or historians. Then I will analyze the effect of the sugar act on the beginning of the American Revolutionary war. Through this, I would gain a strong understanding of the timeline in America just before the sugar act to the beginning of the revolutionary war. I would then relook at all discarded information to ensure that none of that information would help me write a stronger report. I would then use my research to create a factual report to inform a journal to publish my work.

Source analysis:

1 The Sugar act political cartoon

This source was produced by a cartoonist in the late 18th century from the colonies. This image looks at the “benefits” of taxation on the colonies in a satirical manner. This shows how the Britsh viewed taxes and comments on how it harms the colonies. This source is relevant to the research because it shows how both the British saw taxation as well as how the colonies saw the taxes. This source has limitations because the author and date are unknown. The source also has limitations because since the author is unknown, the author may be from a Brit making commentary on the government or from a colonist. This source could be used to show how the colonists felt at the time about the act. It could also be used to show what was circulated around the colonies to understand its implications.

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2 The Sugar Act

The purpose of this source was to inform the colonists of the new act and inform them of how to properly react to the new tax. This source was created by the British government directly after the creation of the sugar act. This source is relevant to the research because it showed the colonist’s perspective on the new tax to the colonies. This also helps to show how the British viewed the new tax on colonists. This source is valuable to the researcher because the document shows the British view of their colony and their colonists. The source also helps to show why colonists were mad at the British and can help to create a path between the creation of this tax and the American Revolution. This would help the researcher to understand a mindset and to create a timeline of the American Revolution and use this to ensure causation, not just correlation. This source does not show the colonist’s reaction and requires the researcher to infer the colonists’ reaction. The other limitation of this source is that it was only one of many different ways that colonists found out about the sugar act and hence does not fully encapsulate the way that colonists felt or reacted to the imposition of the tax.

3 Boston merchants’ appeals to repeal the Sugar Act, 1764

This source was created by colonists in response to the implementation of the sugar act. The purpose of this letter was to appeal to the British in order to ask for the removal of the sugar act to allow the colonies to have a prosperous economy. This source helps to inform research on the importance of the sugar act and the colonist’s resentment of the act. The document also shows how the British did not listen to repeated correspondence asking for the removal of the new act leading to resentment from the colonies towards Britain. This source can be used to show how the colonists reacted to the colonies to the taxation especially in a civil manner. This is only one of many possible letters sent and hence it has many limitations because it only shows a single group’s point of view leading to a lack of perspective. This source also only one of a series of letters written by the Boston merchants limiting possible perspective shifts over time. Through the use of this source, a researcher can determine how civil reactions to the implementation of the Sugar Act and to show colonial resentment of Britain.

4 American Colonial Committees of Correspondence: Encountering Oppression, Exploring Unity, and Exchanging Visions of the Future.

The purpose of this document was to explore who the colonial government responded to the implementation of many different acts. This source was created to inform people about how the colonists corresponded with Britain’s Government. This source can be used to show how colonial governments attempted to settle disputes civilly. This source can also be used to show that the colonists attempted to become a civil partnership with the government of Britain. The source has many limitations because it is not a primary source and hence does not have knowledge that was lost due to time. This source does benefit as a document created in the past century because it can combine multiple first-person accounts and allows for a more objective document. This source still has many other limitations including a lack of focus in the document is many pages, but only spends one page per topic and hence does not delve deeply into a single topic. This can also be seen as a positive because it shows how resentment of Britain occurs over time and more. This document can be used to show the progression of resentment towards Britain and shows how the sugar act was a part of a larger movement toward revolution.

5. “The American Revolution: 6 Things You Should Know (But Probably Don’t).

This source was created to inform students about what led to the American revolution. The document was produced in the last century by a historian who was commissioned to create a simpler explanation of the American Revolution. This source is helpful to show the multiple different causes of the revolution. In the same way, this document is used to ensure that other documents that have been used are similar to others to ensure credibility. This source is somewhat limited because many complex facts have been simplified decreasing the value of this source. This can be used for a simple explanation of the root causes of the American Revolution. This source can be used to confirm the timeline of the American Revolution.

Reflection: I have learned how historians must work tirelessly to find documents to support their argument. At the same time, researchers can not find all the sources they would like to be able to see. This is because history is only recorded from a few perspectives making research both more biased and more difficult. Through research, the sources showed how colonists and Britain viewed the implementation of the Sugar act. The research also revealed how the sugar act was only one part of an onslaught of taxes and other acts that harmed the colonies leading to the American revolution. Through the research, many questions were answered but the research did not reveal what actions the British would have taken after the implementation of the Sugar Act. Further research would allow understanding of other revolutions to determine the causes of other revolutions and look to see if other revolutions draw parallels to the American revolution.

Works Cited

  1. Avalon Project – Great Britain : Parliament – The Sugar Act : 1764,
  2. “CRISIS.” Loyal Subjects? Colonial Response to the Sugar Act & Currency Act, 1764, Thomas Pownall: Administration of the Colonies, American Revolution, Primary Sources for Teachers, America in Class, National Humanities Center,
  3. FRANK, MARY KATE. “The American Revolution: 6 Things You Should Know (But wwwProbably Don’t).” The New York Times Upfront, vol. 151, no. 3, Oct. 2018, pp. 18–21. wwwEBSCOhost,
  4. “Political Cartoons of the 18th Century.” American Newspaper,
  5. Warford­ Johnston , Ben. American Colonial Committees of Correspondence: wwwEncountering Oppression, Exploring Unity, and Exchanging Visions of the Future .

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Sugar Act As a Cause of the American Revolution: Arguments For and Against. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from
“Sugar Act As a Cause of the American Revolution: Arguments For and Against.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022,
Sugar Act As a Cause of the American Revolution: Arguments For and Against. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Mar. 2023].
Sugar Act As a Cause of the American Revolution: Arguments For and Against [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 14 [cited 2023 Mar 28]. Available from:
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