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Abstract

By the late 17th century, Great Britain had a major smuggling problem, initially in illegally exported wool but later imported teas and French brandies. The problem grew to its peak in the mid 18th century and caused enormous financial loss to the government. This paper analyzes, among other contemporary documents, the 1767 account from Sir Stephen T. Janssen to argue that the problem was created by high taxes on teas and politically-motivated attempts by the crown to popularize gin. Even during time of war, smuggling between Great Britain and France continued. Adept tactics, aid from local townspeople, and notorious violence from smuggling gangs all proliferated the problem. Despite parliamentary efforts amidst the War of Austrian Succession to stop it, smuggling activity was not truly curbed until 1784, when Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger lowered taxes on imported teas.

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