Prohibition in the Late 18th Century

Pages: 3 (1223 words) Published: January 3, 2015

In various points in history, governments have made regulations which many of the people refused to follow. During the late 18th century, prohibition of trade amongst separately colonized islands caused smuggling between these islands to become quite popular. Islands owned by the French, English, and Spanish each had different goods that were sought after, and thus, illegal trade commenced and was very successful. Supply and demand continued as it did because the smugglers stood to gain economically, and because consumers wanted the products they sold, which was often cheaper or rarer than products which were sold legally. The causes of this will be further elucidated by the documents below, as will the responses from both people and governments. There were various reasons for the smuggling that occurred in the late 18th century. The author of Document 2, for example, states that English merchants were outdone by the low prices of French products. He continues to say that “The English merchants begged me to put a stop to this infamous trade, because it hurt their ability to make money and get ahead.” This reveals that illegally obtained products sold very well, and could be sold for less than products legally obtained and sold by British merchants. By selling products smuggled from France, merchants could attract more business and increase their overall profit margin. Furthermore, French Caribbean Islands had fewer “government expenses,” an important fact presented in Document 5 which explains why French smugglers were able to drop their prices so low. Another reason that people turned to smuggling was because of the inconvenient requirements of being a legal merchant at the time. Document 1 reminds us that master of English ships would have to report to the governor and pay for permission for the goods they would take with them upon arrival at Spanish ports. This information revels that not only did merchants have to deal with competition from French...
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