Land of the Brave

Hat Act

Colonial America - Land of the Brave

Definition of the Hat Act
The Meaning and Definition of the Hat Act: The Hat Act of 1732 was a British Law passed by the Parliament of Great Britain that was designed to control hat production by the American colonists in the .

The British wanted to restrict the manufacture and export of hats in the colonies because the colonial hat makers were in competition with the English hat makers. The Hat Act also restricted the number of workers that could be hired, limiting the number of apprentices and forbidding the use of black slaves in the trade.

Purpose of the Hat Act
The Purpose of the Hat Act of 1732 was to:

  • Restrict the manufacture and export of hats in the colonies
  • Reduce the number of people in the colonies employed in the hat trade
  • Prohibit the inter-colonial sale of finished hats
  • Increase the sales and profits of hat makers in England

The Hat Act and the Fur Trade
The fur trade was highly lucrative and the French and English had fought to monopolize the fur trade  during the . Beaver skins or pelts was the raw material used to make a good quality felt used in hat making. Beaver hats were a status symbol for position and wealth in the 1600 and 1700's. The sales of hats made from beaver skins were an extremely important source of income to the British nation. From 1700 to 1770  the beaver skins that were exported from the American colonies to Great Britain were used to make 21 million hats which the British exported from England to other parts of Europe. Beaver skins were the first great American trade commodity.

Mercantilism and the Hat Act
The Hat Act was part of the policy of that favored England in which the raw materials from the colonies, in this case beaver fur and pelts, were used to make different products in England - finished goods had a higher value than the raw materials. 

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