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Mercantilism is an economic theory where a nation\'s strength comes from building up gold supplies and expanding its trade. Britain formed the American colonies so that they could increase their gold stores. They wanted raw supplies to make into products to sell and make money. They wanted America to pay taxes so that Britain could make money. America used the theory in that they thought they ought to, in order to be strong expand their trade beyond Britain. Countries like Belgium, and France wanted to also increase their trade, and expand it to trading with America. They also wanted to increase their gold stores by trading with America. Britain however did not want America to trade with France and Belgium and the Netherlands because they wanted to increase their gold stores, so they needed a monopoly over American trade. So there was tension between Britain and its American colonies.
One of the first efforts made by Britain to control the American colonies was the Acts of Trade and Navigation. What these acts did was limited American trade to basically just Britain. These Acts were in place between 1650-1660 and they were there to ensure that the mercantile system that existed stayed. It was mainly to prevent the Frenchmen and Dutch from receiving American goods. The acts limited American shipping to be via Britain. The British had to receive all American goods and them their merchants would sell the goods to other countries, but America could not. Any goods that were to be imported to the colonies had to be passed through British middlemen, where a tax was added so that Britain would profit. America was also forbidden to produce goods or grow crops for profit. If they were to do that then they would be competing with British industries. The colonies were supposed to also buy more than they sold, so that their currency was drained, but all to Britain.
Before 1663, when the Acts of Trade and Navigation were not enforced the colonists benefited from Britain. The colonists of the north smuggled goods and manufactured items for profit. They avoided the British laws. The southern colonists had a guaranteed market from the British because they had a monopoly. The colonies also benefited because they had the British army troops to guard them, and they have low taxes, and the British navy shielded them. The colonists were generally more prosperous than the English, so their crime paid off.
The colonists however saw it in a different light. They thought that Britain was all bad, and although they appreciated the benefits of Britain, they somehow felt that the bad part of Britain outweighed the good. Their perception of Britain was not the greatest. They seemed to believe that they were being held back by Britain economically, and therefore in strength by Britain. The British set the prices and made all of the rules for American trade. The people of the New England colonies felt that the British Navy was stifling their entrepreneurial pursuits in the free market. So the navy was not in fact helping them by protecting them, but hindering them. The people of the middle colonies, who were producers of a vast amount of grain, felt that they too were being stifled. If they could only trade with Britain then they hadn\'t much of a market, and little opportunity to make more money. They felt that because of the presence of the British troops they were being held back. The southern colonies were going further and further into debt. Britain was buying their tobacco at a much lower price that they resold it in the free market, therefore the south was losing money and Britain making money. The colonists in general felt that they were being forced back by Britain intellectually and politically, if they couldn\'t make money then they couldn\'t be strong under the theory of Mercantilism.
At this point I should also mention that at the time there were other surmounting troubles between Britain and America. The British parliament had passed taxes on America to pay for the British troops, however Americans were not represented in parliament, so the Americans felt that any taxes were unfair as well.
Britain however was definitely profiting from the acts even though the northern colonies weren\'t
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Economic nationalism, Stamp Act, Currency Act, Declaratory Act, Sugar Act, American Revolution, Thirteen Colonies, No taxation without representation, Quartering Acts, Navigation Acts, Mercantilism, Intolerable Acts
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