British Mercantilism Essay

2884 words - 12 pages

Economic ideas and systems come and go. Many systems have failed and many have succeeded. The British system of mercantilism was actually quite a good system for England. They raked in profits from their colonies. The only problem was that they did not give enough economic freedom to their colonies. At almost every turn, the British tried to restrict what their colonies could do and whom they could trade with. In hindsight, I believe that the British may have been a bit more lenient on their restrictions because the constant prohibitions eventually lead to revolution…
England did not directly control its colonies. Instead, they let joint-stock companies control and provide funds and foodstuffs for the colonies. Modern day corporations find their roots in these Joint-stock companies. The joint-stock companies were comprised of a group of entrepreneurs who provided the funds for all the voyages and supplies. The people funding the company usually controlled the colony as well.
     The Dominion of New England was set up by English officials to unite the colonies into one defense against the Native      Americans. It was run by a man named Andros, who began to levy taxes on all the colonists without first getting input from the various assemblies from the colonies. The Dominion of New England was eventually overrun. Andros was being searched for because of the failings of this Dominion, so he took cover and tried to escape the colonies by dressing like a woman. However, his boots gave him away.
     The colonists were growing more and more displeased by the economic system the British were forcing on them, and then the Molasses Act came. This Act placed high tariffs on sugar, molasses and rum imported into New England in a effort to prevent colonial trade with the French West Indies sugar islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. British sugar merchants on the islands of Barbados, Antigua and Jamaica had complained to Parliament. The law was enacted to restrict non-British trade and to further enforce the concept that trade was to be done only on British owned ships. In response to this Act, the colonists began to smuggle goods into the colonies.
     Parliament also passed a series of Navigation Laws, which further restricted trade from the colonies. Cromwell passed the original Navigation Law in 1651. The law stated that no goods grown or manufactured in Asia, Africa, or America should be transported to England except in English vessels, and that the goods of any European country imported into England must be brought in British vessels, or in vessels of the country producing them. The law was directed against the Dutch maritime trade, which was very great at that time. But it was nowhere strictly enforced, and in New England scarcely at all.
In 1660 the second of these laws was passed, greatly resembling first and adding much to it. This act forbade...

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