Section 1: The Capitalist Commonwealth
How did promoters of mercantilism (the commonwealth system) use state and national governments to promote economic growth? Promoters of mercantilism petitioned state legislatures for assistance. Legislatures granted special charters, rights, and laws to private companies to promote economic growth and the market economy. As a large and undeveloped nation, the United States lacked an efficient transportation system, and needed to raise large amounts of revenue to fund infrastructure improvements. American entrepreneurs encouraged expansion by developing rural manufacturing networks like the ones in Europe. Enterprising merchants bought raw materials, hired workers in farm families to process them, and sold the finished manufactured goods in regional or national markets. Merchants shipped shoes, brooms, and palm leaf hats as well as cups, baking pans, and other tin utensils to stores in seaport cities. This business expansion resulted innovations in organizing production. Also, during the 1780’s, New England and Middle Atlantic merchants built water powered mills to run machines that combed wool and later cotton into long strands. The growth of manufacturing offered farm families new opportunities and new risks as well.
Why did many Americans believe that the granting of special privileges and charters to private businesses violated republican principles? Many Americans believed that the granting of special privileges and charters to private businesses violated republican principles because the special privileges violated the equal rights of all citizens and restricted the sovereignty of the people to shape governmental affairs and national development. The critics believed that the privileges given to private enterprises were schemes of an evident Anti-Republic tendency. Also, the voting rights increased for white men and the emerging middle class helped the nature of