, Research Paper
British Mercantilism in the New WorldAlthough the purpose of establishing British colonies in the New World was to set up a mercantilist system that would feed the mother country, this is not what actually transpired. The mercantilist system was very popular among imperial European countries. Through this economic system the colonies were responsible for establishing settlements with sole purpose of providing raw materials for the parent country. In many situations, it did turn out to be beneficial to Europe. However, this was not the case for the British colonies in America, where mercantilism was more beneficial to the colonies than to Great Britain. Much to the dismay of Britain, their endeavor to set up a beneficial economic system in the New World did not fulfill its purpose. Under a mercantilistic approach, all wealth produced in the colonies was to be handed over to Britain. Mercantilism seems to be a favorable for Britain, but further investigation proves the opposite. First, in order to benefit from trade originating in the colonies, Britain established the navigation acts. These acts forced certain products to pass through Britain, be taxed, and then distributed to the rest of the world. Although, the mother country benefited, the navigation acts were seen as an unnecessary intrusion. Furthermore, additional duties were placed on the trade of colonial goods. The Townshend act taxed paint, paper, lead and other products of the colonies. Once again the colonies did not appreciate this infringement on their right to trade. Finally, the Tea Act was the straw the broke the camel s back. The colonies were, in essence, forced to buy dutied British tea and were used as a means to replenish the waning inflow of capital from the East India company.
Mercantilism in theory was good, and did work in some places. However, in the colonies it brewed anti-British sentiment, which finally culminated in revolution. The acts and restrictions imposed on the colonies independently seem harmless and innocent. But, the collective effect of years of economic restriction, supposedly for the benefit of Britain, were catastrophic for Britain. Although Britain suffered due to colonial mercantilism, the colonies eventually benefited. The anti-British sentiment caused by the imposing Imperial control, was the probably the most essential factor in the American Revolution. The colonies realized the importance of freedom only when it was taken away. If Britain would have kept a lower level of control, the colonies would never fathom revolt. by MickyH@aol.com