The Merits And Menace Of Mercantilism

823 words - 4 pages

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the economic theory utilized by Great Britain towards its empire was known as mercantilism. The idea behind mercantilism was to amass wealth through a favorable balance of trade, or exporting more goods than were imported. Within the idea of mercantilism, the colonies were meant to be a source of raw materials and a market for manufactured products. Even though the mercantile theory seemed to prosper between England and the colonies, the underlying resentment from the colonies towards it and its negative effects on them eventually led to its failure.The mercantile theory dictated both the visible and invisible trades throughout the colonies. ...view middle of the document...

Although mercantilism was profitable for England, it burdened the colonists with annoying liabilities. At first, Americans reaped direct benefits from the mercantile system. Salutary neglect was common throughout the colonies because England was so prosperous. However, after 1763, England began to enforce its policies with more intensity. Americans were not able to buy, sell, ship, or manufacture their own goods without going through England first. Prime Minister George Grenville aroused resentment from the colonists when he began strictly enforcing the Navigation Laws in order to gain money for a victorious, yet poor mother country. Over the next two years, he issued a series of taxes that would favor the crown: the Sugar Act of 1764, which placed a high tax on all sugar imported from the West Indies, the Quarter Act of 1765, which required colonists to provide shelter and food for British troops, and the Stamp Act of 1765, which stated a tax to be issued on all paper products throughout the colonies. Many of the colonists were outraged. They began questioning the taxes; why were troops needed now that there was not any threat from foreign countries, and why were the citizens in England not being taxed for those things also? The fuse that eventually ignited the American Revolution had been lit.Americans began to "sniff the strong scent of a conspiracy to strip them of their historical liberties" after...

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