The Mercantile Period (1450-1775)
The mercantile period was one of sharp reawakening on the European continent in the areas of new thoughts and writings and in the expansion of trade, colonization, and business activity. On most of the European continent agriculture held sway well into the end of the period, whereas in England the industrial revolution was starting to take hold by the end of this period. All European countries were deeply involved in colonization and world trade by the end of the period.
In Europe, the early part of the period was influenced by such men as Sir Thomas More, Niccoló Machiavelli, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. The middle and latter parts of this period were heavily influenced by John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and the economic mercantilists, physiocrats, and those who in philosophy fell in between the mercantilists and physiocrats. This "in between" group was referred to by some as the forerunners of economic liberalism. In reviewing these people and groups it should be noted that as movement is made into the latter part of the period and into the study of the views, philosophies, and writings of some of the economists, other than for the physiocrats, there is a marked decrease in emphasis placed on the equality of mankind and the helping of one's fellow man, while increased emphasis is placed on the making of money and building up a large store of wealth. In many ways the worker and his family are again relegated to the level of the slave and given only sufficient food and wages to maintain him and his family at the subsistence level. Decreasing thought and emphasis is given to God, reference to moral and ethical values are left out of many of the discussions, and little or no social responsibility is discussed. The solution