They also believed that the wealth of a nation depended primarily on the possession of gold and silver. Mercantilists assumed that the volume of world wealth and trade was relatively static; so one country"tms gain required another"tms loss. According to this view, a colonial possession should provide wealth to the country that controlled it. Colonies were not supposed to compete with the mother country"tms home industries. Empires were closed systems, designed to keep competitors out.
To implement mercantilist policy, England passed legislation called the Navigation Acts that restricted its colonies to trading solely with the mother country. The acts also stipulated that goods imported or exported by English colonies in Africa, Asia, or America had to be shipped on vessels constructed by English shipbuilders and that at least three-quarters of the ships"tm crews had to be English.
Sometimes such regulations backfired. During the French and Indian War (1754-1763) in North America, the British Parliament sought to increase revenues to pay the costs of defending the American colonies. It used the Navigation Acts to levy heavier duties on the American colonies. American colonists felt oppressed by these taxes, whi
For the Americans, the greatest irritant was Britain"tms practice of impressments, or the seizure of American seamen for service in the British navy. The British government claimed that it only seized subjects of the Crown who sailed under the American flag to avoid wartime service in their own navy. In fact, the British seized not only their own deserters, but also impressed a sizeable number of United States citizens-estimates suggest 6000 or more.
As a whole, the problems of an exploitation colony economy have tended to persist after the colony gained political independence, for several reasons. The former mother country sometimes continued to exercise some control over the economy, maintaining close relationships with the former colony"tms new rulers and policy-makers. These colonies have also had difficulty attracting loans into the subsistence sector because returns on such loans are low. Investment has tended to go into the export sector where it will produce better results because exports, such as tin, coffee, or palm oil, are in demand and have established markets. For the same reasons, foreign aid has tended to flow into the export sector.
The revolution had many causes. Long-term social, economic, and political changes in the colonies before 1750 provided the basis for an independent nation with representative political institutions. More immediately, the French and Indian War (1754-1763) changed the relationship between the colonies and their mother country. Finally, a decade of conflicts between the British government and the colonists, beginning with the Stamp Act crisis in 1765, led to the outbreak of war in 1775 and the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
President Thomas Jefferson initially attempted to win respect for American neutrality by an economic boycott, a policy that banned trade with Europe. At Jefferson"tms urging the Congress of the United States passed the Embargo Act of 1807, prohibiting virtually all U.S. commerce with European nations. Additional measures in 1808 and 1809 also restricted overland trade with British and Spanish possessions in Canada and Florida. This legislation failed to stop the aggressive actions of either France or Britain, but it did seriously harm the American economy. Consequently, Congress replaced it in 1809 with the Non-Intercourse Act, which forbade trade only with France and Britain. This measure was also overturned in 1810 by Macon's Bill No. 2, which reopened American commerce with all nations.
Public outrage over the issue of impressments grew increasingly vocal after an incident between the American naval frigate Chesapeake and a British vessel, the Leopard. In June 1807 the Leopard approached the Chesapeake only a few miles off the American coast and demanded to search the ship for British deserters. The Chesapeake"tms commander, James Barron, refused, and the Leopard opened fire. A number of American sailors were killed or wounded during the attack, and the Chesapeake surrendered. The British then sent a party aboard and dragged four crewmen from the vessel. After the incident, Jefferson ordered British warships to leave American waters and demanded an end to the practice of impressments. The British did make some apologies and restitution for the Chesapeake-Leopard incident, but continued to claim the right to seize American ships and inspect them for deserters.
nto the country. They also believed that the wealth of a nation depended primarily on the possession of gold and silver. Mercantilists assumed that the volume of world wealth and trade was relatively static; so one country"tms gain required another"tms loss. According to this view, a colonial possession should provide wealth to the country that controlled it. Colonies were not supposed to compete with the mother country"tms home industries. Empires were closed systems, designed to keep competitors out.