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In American Colonial history, the Iron Act, strictly Importation, etc. Act 1750 (Statute 23 Geo. II c. 29) was one of the legislative measures introduced by the British Parliament, seeking to restrict manufacturing activities in British colonies, particularly in North America, and encourage manufacture to take place in Great Britain.

The provisions of the Act[edit]

The Act contained several provisions, applying from 24 June 1750:

  • Duty on the import of pig iron from America should cease.
  • Duty on bar iron imported to London should cease.
  • Such bar iron might be carried coastwise or by land from there to Royal Navy dockyards, but otherwise not beyond 10 miles from London.
  • The iron must be marked with its place of origin (most, if not all, pig iron was already marked).
  • No mill or engine for slitting or rolling iron or any plating forge to work with a tilt hammer or any furnace for making steel should be erected in America.
  • Colonial governors were required to certify what mills of these types already existed.

Its later amendment and repeal[edit]

The limitation of imported bar iron to London and the dockyards was repealed in 1757 by 30 Geo. II c.16, duty-free imports to any part of Great Britain being permitted. A clause requiring bar iron to be marked was similarly repealed as unnecessary. The whole Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1867, by which time American independence had long rendered it obsolete.


Pig iron had been exported from Virginia and Maryland since the 1720s, but little came from other colonies, nor did bar iron. The continuance of this was encouraged, as was the production and export of bar iron (which required a finery forge using a helve hammer not a trip hammer).

Conversely, the Act was designed to restrict the colonial manufacture of finished iron products and steel. Existing works could continue in operation, but no expansion would be possible in the output of:

  • knives, scythes, sickles and other edged tools as a tilt hammer would be needed to produce thin iron, and a steel furnace to make steel.
  • nails which were made from rod iron, from a slitting mill.
  • Tinplate, which required a rolling mill. This was the raw material from which tinsmiths made a wide variety of goods from tinned sheet iron.

This was a continuation of a long term British policy, beginning with the British Navigation Acts, which were designed to direct most American trade to England (from 1707, Great Britain), and to encourage the manufacture of goods for export to the colonies in Britain.

The Iron Act, if enforced, would have severely limited the emerging iron manufacturing industry in the colonies. However, as with other trade legislation, enforcement was poor because no one had any significant incentive to ensure compliance. Nevertheless, this was one of a number of measures restrictive on the trade of British Colonies in North America that were one of the causes of the American Revolution.

Part of the reason for lax enforcement may be due to the involvement of Colonial Officials in iron works. Virginia Governors Gooch and Spotswood were both deeply involved in iron manufacture. Gooch was a part owner of the Fredericksville Ironworks. Spotswood owned Tubal Ironworks (a blast furnace and probably finery forge) and the double air furnace at Massaponnax. Other prominent members of the Virginia aristocracy and House of Burgesses involved in the iron industry included John Tayloe (Bristol Ironworks, near Fredericksburg; Neabsco Ironworks; and Occoquan Ironworks), Augustine Washington, George's father (Accoceek/Potomac Ironworks), and Benjamin Grimes (Grimes Recovery and a bloomery near Fredericksburg).

Further reading[edit]

  • Bining, A. C. (1933). British Regulation of the Colonial Iron Trade. Philadelphia: Univ. of Philadelphia Press. OCLC 2013136. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Act — Please support Wikipedia.
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Breitbart News

Breitbart News
Wed, 05 Aug 2015 09:53:35 -0700

It would joke around with them, then get all serious and do its Arnold pumping iron act. Joe seems like a lecherous old coot, as if telling some hot babe "check my pocket for a 100 dollar bill." If she falls for it, she reaches in only to find a hole ...

World Socialist Web Site

World Socialist Web Site
Mon, 23 Mar 2015 22:49:58 -0700

... Acts. The shopkeepers and artisans of city and town were controlled by Parliamentary measures and “enumerated lists” of restricted commodities that aimed to maintain a balance of payments favorable to the mother country, for example the Iron Act of ...

Carlisle Sentinel

Carlisle Sentinel
Fri, 19 Sep 2014 06:46:51 -0700

Carlisle Iron Works was built after the introduction of the Iron Act, while America was still under British control. The act restricted the production of finished iron products, but encouraged the trade of raw iron to England. After 1781, it was ...

Washington Post

Washington Post
Thu, 26 Sep 2013 16:27:16 -0700

Hopewell-made products in the visitor center include a stove “made in direct opposition to the Iron Act of 1750,” when England tried to hamper the upstart American colonies by prohibiting the building of lucrative ironworks, ranger Christopher ...

The SandPaper

The SandPaper
Thu, 16 Oct 2014 09:16:28 -0700

“In 1750, the British created the Iron Act that prohibited the selling of finished goods. It was only sold to British companies who made it into goods then sold them back to the colonies at inflated prices,” said Solem. “During pre-Revolutionary times ...


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Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Wed, 07 Mar 2012 14:03:48 -0800

Dr Mark Curran, from the Australian Antarctic Division, told ABC Radio: 'Very, very tiny amounts of iron act as a nutrient. 'Usually algae in this region are iron limited and so when they get a small amount of iron and they have everything else they ...
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