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 Wars. 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 Mercantilism 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.