• Category: History
  • Words: 823
  • Grade: 90
A Mercantilist World
Throughout the history of the world, economics have played an important role in the development of cultures and stabling of nations. One of the key influential economic policies of the 17th century was the mercantilist system used mostly by England. The British were ranked among the top traders of the world, and when they incorporated the mercantilist policies in their trade policies, world trade was dramatically altered. The British mercantilist system is trade on a strictly national scale, parliament incorporated it in the navigation act, and the system hurt and helped the new America.
Although the mercantilist economic theory was not entirely new, in its own way it was revolutionary. It was not a carefully detailed economic theory. To use this policy, a country had to make itself as self-sufficient as possible, eliminating all dependence on the world around them. Killing the competition by literally starving them out of trade, supplies, and commercial interests, was the key goal of mercantilism. The English also wanted to cut down the Dutch Republic (eliminating it as competition for shipping would catapult the British into wealth). The whole point of mercantilism was to make a country so self sufficient, that the whole entire free trade market would crumble. Adam Smith was one of the only crusaders for free trade, writing and publishing The Wealth of Nations in its defense. The mercantilist system did not last as long as the English would have like it to, giving power back to other nations.
However, England took mercantilism to a new level, by cruelly incorporating it in its newest economic policy, the Navigation Act. The Navigation Act was put into effect purely to stunt/stop the economic growth of the Dutch Republic, which at this time (1651) was the lead shipper in the world. Parliament took the mercantilist view, and altered it a little to make it that the traders of the world were completely dependent on Britain for supplies, trade, and to strive higher. The navigation Act first limited all imperial trade to England, then if a country were to trade with anyone other than Great British they were fined, killed, or forced to undergo the scrutiny of British trade inspectors. Now, England was completely independent, but in the process it made the rest of the world wait and be dependent on the Brits. So all in all, Parliament managed to make this a great deal for the British nation, and not so great for the rest of the world.
Therefore, the new American colonies were once again completely dependent on the British. Not only would this make the Americans strive for complete independence from the British, but it would help American grow to useful proportions. Many cities in American became important shipping ports to the English, such as Philadelphia and New York City. In this way the Navigation Act helped America, because the colonies were profiting from these ports, and the population grew, hence making more people to work. However, it was not all smooth sailing for the colonists. The goods that the Americans otherwise would have exported and profited from themselves, now went to the growing British Empire. Such important goods as tobacco, rice, furs, and indigo were controlled, but this in fact helped the Americans, having a monopoly over England. ON the surface it might have appeared that the act was helping the colonies, but it was strangling them, since they could not make a name for themselves outside England, and could not compete against their main "enemies".
In essence, mercantilism dramatically altered the path of relations and trade for years to come. Mercantilism was a system of trade that was strictly kept in the domains of the "mother" nation. The English used it to target the profiting Dutch and restricted all trade with any other country besides England. Parliament enacted this system, incorporating it in the very important Navigation Act. This act directly affected the American colonies, making it seem as though restricting its trade to only Britain was helpful, while it was really damaging. The authors of "The Enduring Vision" felt that the harm out-weighed the benefits of Britain taking America under its wing. This was just the beginning for insurmountable wealth for the countries of Great Britain. All in all this was a great time period in the history of England, enabling them to go far ahead the other nations, and strive for the wealth they had been waiting for.

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