Distilleries in Boston Helped Start the American Revolution

The following in an interesting historical piece on the history of distilling in Boston and how the industry played a part in the Revolutionary War.

Such was the condition of things at that early period. These facts were alarming—the increase had been great: there were no distilleries in the United States previous to 1710.  About that period, some individuals, engaged in the West India trade, erected in Boston the first distillery known in the United States. "These distilleries were erected for the purpose of evading the duty imposed by the British Government on all distilled spirits entering her American colonies. The plan was to import molasses (such as was thrown away in the sugar-houses) to Boston, duty free, where they distilled it into New England Rum, as it was called.— The business so increased that it soon extended to the more southern colonies, and the materials were purchased in exchange for horses, mules, fish, lumber, &c. In 1715, the British Islands became alarmed, and complained of the cutting off of their supplies, and the diminution of their trade. Fierce disputes arose, and in 1733 an act was passed levying a tax of 6d. on molasses imported into the Colonies from any foreign port or place. But the New Englanders evaded it. A British fleet was sent over to enforce it, and violent conflicts continued about the molasses act, until the war of the Revolution. The material thus manufactured was soon extensively used by the Colonies in carrying on the India trade and their fisheries. The business was so great that twenty thousand hogsheads of French molasses were manufactured into rum in one year, in the then small town of Boston, so vast was the demand for that liquor. Pennsylvania in 1796 was but little behind New England in the amount of ardent spirits distilled in the State, but it was distilled from the staff of life. In view of the alarming increase of distilled liquors in the U. States, in 1794 a law was passed levying a duty on all such liquors.— This was then thought an alarming usurpation of power—Pennsylvania "in her four western counties openly resisted the force which Gen. Washington sent to enforce the collection of duties. Thus in about one century, the number of distilleries had increased to the amount of 40,000. In consequence of the great demand of ardent spirits, occasioned by the war of 1812, the number soon reached 4-5,000.

This was taken from:
A Brief History of the Rise and Progress of the Temperance Reform
By T. W. Johnson. 1845