Colonial America to 1750

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COLONIAL PERIOD - 1750

Did mercantilism and economic exchange do more to bind or divide GB and Colonies?

Mercantilism and economic exchange between Great Britain and the American colonies gradually created a wedge between them. This wedge was not built by just one act, but several over many years. These acts would confine and restrict the colonists in many ways and eventually these restrictions, paired with the Enlightenment would lead the colonists closer to emancipation from Britain.

In the 1660's, British government implemented a policy of mercantilism in international trade with the colonies. Mercantilism requires one to export more than it imports. The way that Britain had it set up, Colonial America would provide an export of specific raw goods such as tobacco and sugar to Britain only and in turn, they would use the raw goods to produce manufactured goods that were then sold in European markets as well as back in the colonies. Essentially the colonies were a supplier of raw goods only and could not compete in manufacturing with Britain but were allowed with restriction to manufacture within the colonies on a small scale.

Initially started remove the competing Dutch traders, the English Parliament passed several Navigation Acts that were meant to secure the proper trade balance between the colonies and Britain alone. Starting in 1651, the acts stated that only English ships import or export to the colonies on British ships only, which included ships built in the colonies. Second, enumerated commodities produced in the colonies could be shipped only to England. Those commodities yielded the greatest profit to merchants and highest revenues to the customers, like sugar and tobacco. Aside from the specified products, colonists could take other products they produce and trade wherever they wanted and to whomever, as long as it was in British ships. Third, the act stated that all goods going to the colonies had to go through a British port first,...
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