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17th Century English Mercantilism

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Mercantilism Essay

England in the 17th century adopted the policy of mercantilism, exercising control over the trade of the colonies, thus greatly affecting their political and economical development. Mercantilism was the policy in Europe throughout the 1500's to the 1700's where the government of the mother country controlled the industry and trade of other, weaker settlements with the idea that national strength and economic security comes from exporting more than what is imported. Possession of colonies provided the countries with sources of raw materials and markets for their manufactured goods. This system had political and economical repercussions on the inflicted because it inspired many new laws and acts for the colonies, and it restricted the colonies trade to England, reducing the revenue that the colonies received.
The thirteen colonies were influenced by the mercantilism policy of England due to the numerous trading prohibitations and taxes that were placed on them and the goods they trafficked. The first extensive code of mercantile regulations was the Acts of Trade and Navigation which established three main rules for colonial trade. First being trade between the colonies and England could only be transported on English or colonial-built ships, operated by English or colonial crews; second that all goods, excluding some perishables, could only pass through English ports; third, certain enumerated goods from the colonies could only be exported to England, including tobacco and sugar. The only positive effect of this act was that English military forces protected the colonies from potential threats from rivaling countries. Similar acts to those of trade and navigation, such as the Staple Act of 1663, the...


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...nerally worth more than raw goods, thus everyone working for the good of the country.
The English intended for mercantilism to benefit them and make the colonies work with England independent of foreign countries. This idea backfired, causing the stimulation of independent political ideas due to the unsatisfactory economical gain that mercantilism placed on the colonies. The laws and acts put on the colonies inspired new political movements and the search for financial gain elsewhere. English mercantilists believed that inhabitants needed a wise government to harness production, to curb the greedy and destructive tendencies of competition, and to promote and channel the exchange of goods through regulation, but it is because of this greed and destructive tendencies that the mercantile system could never work because people really just want to benefit themselves.

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