What was the Sugar Act and why did it upset the American colonists so much?
The Sugar Act of 1764 was a law that was intended to make money for the British government. The Sugar Act put a tax on sugar, molasses, and wine. If colonists bought any of these products from the British West Indies [Jamaica and other islands in the Caribbean], then they would have to pay this tax. The colonists imported a good deal of these products; molasses was and important part of the Triangular Trade. This type of tax was nothing new and issues it raised were not really about money. The colonists paid the tax and it raised more money than all other taxes. The way the Sugar Act was imposed and enforced were the real issues that upset the colonists.
The Sugar Act took away our right to a jury trial. The signing of the Magna Charta in 1215 established the right to a trial by "a jury of your peers" [people like you]. The Sugar Act set up Admiralty Courts to try people accused of buying things from countries other than Britain. These Admiralty Courts were run by the British navy. The Admiralty Courts were set up because the American juries did not treat buying goods from another country as a crime. The whole purpose of a jury trial is that the people on a jury will protect you from being unfairly convicted of a crime by the government. The colonists felt that taking away their right to trial by jury was tyranny [unjust rule]. [The British use of Admiralty Courts is why we have the 6th and 7th Amendments to our Constitution, protecting the right to a jury trial.]
The Sugar Act also raised the issue of unfair taxation. Americans were really the only people who bought sugar from the British West Indies. Therefore, the Sugar Act really only applied to Americans and not to the other British citizens - that was unfair. But what was worse is that the Americans did not get to voice their opinions about this tax - the British government just placed it on them without their consent [agreement].