Ecohejdi Essay, Research Paper
During the 1500’s to 1800’s, the strength and stature of a country dependedupon its political power, which can be traced to how self-sufficient itwas. Striving to be self-sufficient was what nations sought after;dependency was not a characteristic of a powerful nation. Raw materialswere the most required item to strengthen the central government, and deterinteractions, such as trade with other nations. The first country tointroduce mercantilism in America was Spain. The spanish american colonieswere not allowed to trade directly with Europe. Instead they had to funnelall of the sugar and tobacco, two common commdities of the new land,through Spain. When this was done, heavy custom duties were imposed andthe central government gained. Spanish American colonies were forced intoproviding precious metals and raw materials to the mother country. Thesecolonies existed only to enrich spain, even if the economic policiesadversly effected the well-being of the colonies. This grip caused thecentral economy of Spain to grow at the expense of the colonies. Duringthe duration of this period, the 1500’s through the 1700’s, mercantilismhad a major effect on the economies in the new world. English speakingcolonies were effected by England’s policies and acts. These policies andacts were means of controling the economy of the colonies in America andstrengthen the central government of England. Dutch traders had the commercial vessel market well cornered in the 1640’s. It was very difficult for English colonies to compete with the Dutch. With owning 75 percent of Northern Europes’ vessels, being well-financedand experienced, the Dutch were going to stay in control of the marketunless European Parliament intervined. In 1651 the European parliamentenacted the first Navigation Act to undercut the Dutches domination. England was hoping that this Act would exclude the Dutch from trade withthe English and force its own merchant marine to grow. This act was thefirst attempt to enforce merchantilism by England. The act proclaimed thatall trade between France and English colonies, Europe and English colonies,and the colonies with themselves must be conducted on an english ship(Kurland). The British were hoping that this would boost the economy andexpand the mercant marine. The failure of this act was caused byinadequate machinery to enforce the law. The english colonies publiclydefied the act and kept on trading with the Dutch. The restoration of Charles II brought about major changes in 1660. All ofthe acts of the Commonwealth Parliament, including the Navigation Act of1651, were considered illigal under his rule (Kurland). Charles II did notintend on doing away with the act, but revising it. The Navigation Act of1660 was a restatement of the 1651 act, but it also established a list ofitems including: tobacco, cotton, wool, and indigo, that couldn’t beshipped outside of the British empire (Barck and Lefler). This Act madethe english colonies frusterated for they could get a higher price forthese items outside of the british empire. The Navigation Act worked as adisadvantage to the colonies, but helped the central economy and governmentof the british by excluding such raw materials from trade to othercountries. The Staple Act of 1663 was an offshoot of the Navigation Acts. It statedthat all European goods bound for the American colonies must first land atan english port and then be reshipped to America in English vessels(Kurland). The British would benefit from this act by imposing customduties on goods, which cost would be passed to the american consumer. Theenglish merchants would profit from handling, insurance, and shipping fees. This Act also provided for a naval officer in all colonial ports to insurethe upholding of the mercantile law. From the American stand point, theStaple Act meant higher prices and a blatant attempt of the British toexploit America for the benefit of the english merchants. There was noneed for the Staple Act to be passed. The Act served no other purposeother than the enrichment of the British people and strengthening of thecentral government. Another example of the British trying to exert control over America waswith the Molasses Act of 1733. This Act imposed a duty of nine pence pergallon on rum, six pence per gallon on molasses, and five shillings perhundredweight of sugar imported from French or Spanish colonies. The wasno tax put on british rum, molasses, or sugar imported from BritishColonies. The British, trying to control the american colonies, werelargely ineffective. The act was vastly ignored by the Americans. TheAmericans were not going to obey a law passed by the english, when theenglish had no way of enforcing it. The english colonies were pulling away
from the alligence to Britain. The British wanted the colonies to buildthe political power of Britain, without getting anything in return. TheBritish wanted to use up all of the resources and raw materials of America,without the colonies resisting. After the British recognized that the Molasses Act was ineffective, theyamended it with the Suger Act (Morison and Commager). Bribing customsofficals into taking 1 and a half pence per gallon not to notice the cargobeing unloaded was how the Molasses Act failed. To do away with thisproblem, the British cut the tax by fifty percent and strickly enforced it. Now the colonies were objecting to the decreased tax. Before, the tax wasnot collected or enforced so the Americans were happy. Now that the taxwas collected the Americans were feeling the threat of British rule. TheBritish government was regarding the colonies as a source of revenue. Thecolonies also noticed how the money was being spent and objected to it. The British talked of how they needed money to support troops in America. The troops were not there to protect the colonies, but to enforce Britishrule. The troops were stationed at ports, not in the interior where thethreat of attack was the greatest. America existed for the sole purpose ofstrengthening the central government of England. Unlike the rest of the Acts passed for the improvement of the britishgovernment, the Stamp Act caused the biggest political storm. Everyonefrom small farmers to merchants were effected. The parliament wanted thecolonist to pay for some imperial expenses. To do this, parliament passedthe Stamp Act in 1765. This law made it illigal to puchase any paper,newspapers, customs documents, various licenses, college diplomas, andnumerous legal forms for recovering debts, buying land, and making willswithout a stamp bought buy the British. The law enabled the British notonly to generate revenues, but censor all materials going into the public. The British would simply not stamp any material, such as a newspaper, thatwere putting any comments about the British that were bad. The Americancolonies did not reciate this law at all. They protested it with avengance claiming, “Taxation without representation is slavery.” Theworking-class’s approach to this problem is to riot, gather great mobs andburn things, and beat up the tax collectors. The upper-class’s way ofhandling this was to make reforms and go about changing this in a civilizedmanner. Everyone in the colonies could agree that the Stamp Act was aselfish law made by the British to control the media and aquire revenues atthe expense of the colonies. During 1790 to 1795, mercantilism helped spark the economy of America underHamiltons authority. Hamilton wanted all foreign debts, amounting to 11.7million, to be payed off in full (Kurland). This would establish a veryhigh credit rating with other nations and help the government createpolitical power. Other debts the Hamilton required to be payed off orassumed were the 40 million in Confederation war bonds and 28 million indebts of individual states (kurland). For the good of the creating a casheconomy and strengthing the U.S. credit rating, Hamilton wanted to induce aBank of the United States under the “implied powers” clause. The system ofbanking he purposed was very similar to that of Englands. Founded in 1791,the Bank of the United States had the duties of financing the federalgovernment during war, regulating credit, and producing sound currency. Hamilton also had the idea of making the bank privately owned, so it wouldrun proficiently. This would give the federal government a backbone duringtimes of war or emergencies and make it much more powerful. Hamilton alsocalled for American self-sufficiency. The report on Manufactures of 1791,written by Hamilton, promoted tariffs on imports to protect manufacturingand create national wealth. America was building its political power bymanipulating its economy. What the British were once doing to thecolonies, the colonies were now doing to themselves. America was using theidea of mercantilism to run the country and build political power. In conclusion, the whole purpose for England to develope and carry out theActs they passed were to stay in control of the colony’s economy and bettertheir central government. The British troops were not there to protect,but to carry out english laws. The Stamp Act was developed to control themedia and legal documents so the colonies wouldn’t stray away and acquiretheir own system. The Navigation Act was to stop the dominating Dutch fromtaking over the commercial vessel industry and build up Englands merchantmarine. The Molasses and Sugar Acts were to make America pay for its socalled troops and help British merchants. Britains mercantilistic ideas inthese Acts show their disregard for the new colonies and the exploitationof their resources. After the War for Independence, America took somemercantilistic ideas to begin building their political power and economy.