British Mercantilism Essay, Research Paper
Whether British mercantilism had any effect on the occurrence of the American Revolution is a many years disputed question of historians. There are many questions that need to be asked before you can decide this ultimate question. Ex: Did the Navigation Acts hold back the growing American economy or did they help boost the American economy with a sure market for all America s products? Or, were the Navigation Acts unfair quests asked of Britain? Many historians have answered these questions, during different time periods, and all with new outlooks and reasons for their opinion.
First of all, mercantilism was to unify and increase the power of Britain by a strict governmental regulation of the entire national economy through policies designed to secure an accumulation of money, a favorable balance of trade, the development of agriculture and manufactures, and the establishment of foreign trading monopolies. George Bancroft wrote in the 1830 s that the Navigation Acts were so oppressive as to constitute a primary cause of the American Revolution. Charles M. Andrews, a member of the imperial school of historians, wrote in the 1930 s that the Navigation Acts did not represent a policy of economic oppression but rather a sincere attempt by Britain to organize the administration of the empire. Yet another historian, Lawrence A. Harper, who wrote in 1939, took the view of the burdens outweighing the benefits received from the Navigation Acts. I agree with George Bancroft and Lawrence A Harper, I believe the Navigation Acts did more harm than good for the American colonies.
George Bancroft, writing from the ant-British point of view, said Colonial trade was confined so strictly by regulations that Americans were allowed to sell to foreign nations only those goods in which England had no interest. This example of economic expulsion, he said, ruined the relationship between Britain and the colonies and helped to bring about the Revolution. George Bancroft criticized the Navigation Acts and other mercantilist restrictions and insisted that this was the main, and for most, cause of the American Revolution.
Another historian, writing from the pro-British point of view from the imperial school of historians, said that the imperial policy of supervision was ineffective so the laws of Britain did not affect colonists anyway. He said the American colonists were restrained very little in economic activities. So, Charles M. Andrews concluded the Navigation Acts and other restrictions were used simply a guide to create unity and order within the colonies and Britain.
Lawrence A. Harper took a more conservative point of view, with main points of both sides, all leaning towards the anti-British point of view on the Navigation Acts. Harper argued on one point with other historians of the Navigation laws being ineffective because colonists evaded them anyway. A study of his showed that there was very little smuggling in trade across the Atlantic. Harper believes that the colonies received many benefits from Britain, like military protection, but ultimately concludes that the burdens of the Navigation Acts outweighed the benefits received.
There were both good points and bad points to British mercantilism. The colonies received military protection, a sure market for all of the goods offered by Americans, and with some of the laws the industries in America were benefited. Some bad points to British mercantilism were control over everything the colonists did, Britain became stricter and stricter with the colonists, any money the colonists made from trade in the West Indies was drained off to England, British merchants had a rule never to send bullion or gold to the colonies, and certain industries had to deal with more regulations because Britain did not want competition for its own companies. In conclusion, when looking at the big picture and all advantages and disadvantages, I am in agreement with George Bancroft, and Lawrence A. Harper, the British mercantilist ways stunted the growth of the America s colonies to be prosperous sooner. Because of this, resentment built up in the colonies toward the mother country and thus, eventually, caused the American Revolution.