Economic Exploitation of the Colonies

Economic Exploitation of the Colonies:

England wanted to exploit the colonies to the maximum but they were not prepared for this. The colonists wanted to expand and run their businesses and industries themselves. They were not interested in giving benefits to England. On the other hand, the British government wanted the colonies to help it in increasing its wealth and authority. The British government passed certain laws against the colonies which were beneficial for England. These Laws may be classified under three heads:

Navigation Laws:

By way of passing Navigation Laws in 1651, England made it imperative for the colonies to conduct their business operations by means of ships owned by England, Ireland, or the colonies. This law contributed to the development of the ship-manufacturing industry in England only. The Navigation Laws, also enjoined that all kinds of raw materials needed by England should first be brought to the English ports and then exported elsewhere from the colonies. The Navigation Laws served the mercantilistic interests of England because the English traders earned commissions and the British Exchequer extracted revenue from the re-exported goods. In order to realize its mercantilistic aims, England passed another Navigation Act in 1663, which enjoined that the goods to be exported from Europe to the American colonies should first be brought to the English ports. This Act also benefitted the English traders and the proprietors of merchant ships at the cost of fleecing the American customers. It is obvious that such laws were detrimental to the interests of colonists.

Trading Regulations:

Under the Trading Regulations, some commodities produced in the American colonies had to be exported to England only. These special goods were rice, tobacco, iron, wood, untanned leather, and marine products. Such Laws caused great dissatisfaction in colonies because the Dutch and the French traders were ready to buy these goods at higher rates than what the British traders paid but the colonists were unable to sell their goods at profitable prices. It was also provided in the Regulations that the export of American goods and the import of European goods in the colonies could be carried out by British traders only. In this way, the British traders siphoned the profits reaped from the export and import.

Industrial Regulations:

Some industries were suppressed through Industrial Regulations. For instance, the British Parliament banned the export of woolen goods from America by passing a Regulation in 1689. In 1732, the export of both finished and half-finished hats was banned. When the British traders and manufacturers of iron became perturbed, by the tough competition of the American businessmen, the British Parliament banned the establishment of iron factories by the Americans in 1750. The Americans could manufacture neither iron rods nor pig iron.

All the laws mentioned above were detrimental to the Americans but they were not opposed vigorously because they were never enforced sternely. Trading and navigational laws were enacted but there were not enough officers to implement them. Women in every family in the colonies worked at the spinning wheel and men either worked at the looms or made hats. Under these circumstances, supervision was difficult.

The British government neither used force nor strove hard to prevent the production of banned goods. Therefore, the immigrants obeyed some laws enacted by the Parliament but neglected others. However, the frequent enactments of laws and their negligence by the people prompted the colonists to disregard England. Hence, when those laws were strictly enforced during the reign of George III, opposition by the colonists was natural.

Important Links:

Ideas and Principles
Negligible Interference by British Government
No Affection for England in the American Colonies
Development of Intellectual Awareness
The Colonists Love for Freedom
Impact of Seven Years War
Greenville Policy
Rockingham Declaratory Act
Townshend Tax Project
Lord North Tea Policy
Intercontinental Conference of the Congress
Declaration of Independence
Independence War of USA Significant Events
Paris Pact September 3, 1783
The Constitution of America
Causes of the Failure of the English
Nature of the Independence War of USA
American Revolution or American War of Independence