17th Century English Mercantilism Essay

938 words - 4 pages

Mercantilism Essay

England in the 17th century adopted the policy of mercantilism, exercising control over the trade of the colonies, thus greatly affecting their political and economical development. Mercantilism was the policy in Europe throughout the 1500's to the 1700's where the government of the mother country controlled the industry and trade of other, weaker settlements with the idea that national strength and economic security comes from exporting more than what is imported. Possession of colonies provided the countries with sources of raw materials and markets for their manufactured goods. This system had political and economical repercussions on the inflicted because it inspired many new laws and acts for the colonies, and it restricted the colonies trade to England, reducing the revenue that the colonies received.
The thirteen colonies were influenced by the mercantilism policy of England due to the numerous trading prohibitations and taxes that were placed on them and the goods they trafficked. The first extensive code of mercantile regulations was the Acts of Trade and Navigation which established three main rules for colonial trade. First being trade between the colonies and England could only be transported on English or colonial-built ships, operated by English or colonial crews; second that all goods, excluding some perishables, could only pass through English ports; third, certain enumerated goods from the colonies could only be exported to England, including tobacco and sugar. The only positive effect of this act was that English military forces protected the colonies from potential threats from rivaling countries. Similar acts to those of trade and navigation, such as the Staple Act of 1663, the Duty Act of 1673, and the Wool Act of 1699 limited trade of goods such as indigo and wool and forced the payment of duties. This did not stop countless instances of the colonies smuggling to other, unapproved countries. To try to put an end to the smuggling, Parliament, in 1696, established a system of courts to hear the cases and deliver justice without juries. London also created a Board of Trade whose job it was to watch over governors and customs official to avoid corruption and lax enforcement. Despite the Glorious Revolution, when new leadership altered the conditions in England, the mercantile limitations remained, so that in the 18th century there were more English officials in the colonies than at any other time, creating friction between those loyal and compliant with the crown and those wishing for personal gain and freedom. The restrictions in colonial trade, although poorly implemented, were resented and opposed; moreover, this illegal expanse of productive activity would become associated with political rights and self-government.
Mercantile regulations also influenced the American colonies economical development through tariffs, limited trading partners, and smuggling. Before the mercantilistic...

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