Salutory Neglect In The American Colonies

931 words - 4 pages

The United States of 2011 offers a drastically different lifestyle to that of our ancestors. In today’s modern America, it is hard to think back and imagine the lives of those before us. In the present world, most people take for granted the freedom they experience in their everyday lives. This freedom may be owed in part to the unofficial British policy of salutary neglect. With the word “salutary” meaning favorable and promoting health, this policy was Britain’s way of letting their colonies in America prosper. This policy offered and assortment of advantages and disadvantages to both Britain and the colonies while also planting a seed among the colonies that that would change the country forever.
Starting around 1650, Britain began to pursue the system of mercantilism; the idea of a country being almost solely self sufficient, or for the country to export more than it imports, to try and achieve this goal, British parliament enacted the Navigation Acts in their American colonies. The four acts were: only English or English colonial ships could carry cargo between imperial ports, certain good, including tobacco, rice, and furs, could not be shipped to foreign nations except through England or Scotland, the English Parliament would pay “bounties” to Americans who produced certain raw goods, while raising protectionist tariffs of the same goods produced in other nations, and Americans could not compete with English manufacturers in large-scale manufacturing. These acts put a major restraint on trading within the colonies, and angered many colonists as well. Instead of following these laws, colonists began to smuggle goods instead. Even though the British were fully aware of the breaking of the laws, in a way they turned the other way and ignored it. This was the idea of salutary neglect as proposed by British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole. He claimed that “if no restrictions were placed on the colonies, they would flourish.” Britain had quite a few reasons as to why they used salutary neglect, but there are three main ones. First, the colonies were a part of their mother country Britain, and therefore they were expected to do everything could to serve the mother country (Britain) through mercantilism. England just expected that since they were in charge of the colonies, that they would stay loyal to England even with less law enforcement. Second, Britain was in the midst of civil war when the policy was enacted. Britain desperately needed to focus on solving their at home conflicts without having to worry about the colonies’. By lessening the tax burned on the colonies and instead relying on the colonies raw materials, Britain was receiving help for their war effort. Lastly, Britain was fully aware that eventually they would be butting heads with the French in a war for possession...

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