How did the Sugar Act of 1764 prove beneficial to Samuel Adams?

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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It can be said that Samuel Adams was one of the great opportunists of the colonial period of American history.  Having failed in his business endeavors in the brewing industry and with marginal success as a tax collector, he turned his eyes toward the world of politics.  

During the period of the French and Indian War, there tended to be a calm in relations between the colonies and the government in England.  After the war, the English Parliament had hoped to increase revenue streams from the colonies to repair its economy.  One such measure was the Sugar Act of 1764 which regulated tax on sugar and molasses.  This had an important economic effect on the colonies because rum was an essential export of the colonial economy.  The collection of a tax on molasses and sugar made it impractical to make a profit on the production of rum.  This caused great discontent in the colonies.  

Samuel Adams, who is said to have been a master propagandist, used this displeasure of the colonists to his advantage. Having been essentially a local politician before 1760, Adams gained attention throughout the colonies for his rhetoric and rabble rousing around the Sugar Act.  Adams was able to rally support for a Continental Congress to represent a unified front against British policies.  By the time colonists had won independence from England, Samuel Adams was a household name in the colonies and Western Europe.  The Sugar Act of 1764 launched a career that would see him sign the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  It sparked a political career that would garner him a seat in Congress and the position of governor of Massachusetts.  

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