Hat Act

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Citation 5 Geo II. c. 22
Territorial extent British America and the British West Indies
Other legislation
Repealed by The Statute Law Revision Act 1867
Status: Repealed

The Hat Act is an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain (citation 5 Geo II. c. 22) enacted in 1732 to control hat production by the Americans in the Thirteen Colonies. It specifically placed limits on the manufacture, sale, and exportation of American-made hats. The act also restricted hiring practices by limiting the number of workers that hatmakers could employ, and placing limits on apprenticeships by only allowing 2 apprentices. The law's effect was that Americans in the colonies were forced to buy British-made goods, and this artificial trade restraint meant that Americans paid four times as much for hats and cloth imported from Britain than for local goods. It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1867.

In his A Summary View of the Rights of British America, Thomas Jefferson denounced the Act as "an instance of despotism to which no parallel can be produced in the most arbitrary ages of British history".[1]


  • Council of Law Reporting. The Law Reports. The Public General Statutes, with a list of the local and private Acts, passed in the thirtieth and thirty-first years of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. London. 1867. Pages 622 to 748.
  • A Collection of the Public General Statutes passed in the Thirtieth and Thirty-first Years of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Printed by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Printers to the Queen. London. 1867. Pages 374 to 460. Digitized copy


  1. ^ Merrill D. Peterson (ed.), Thomas Jefferson. Writings (The Library of America, 1984), p. 109.