RICHARD B. MORRIS
TO DISCOVER the reason for the introduction during the American Revolution of a system of controls for the regulation of commodities and labor services we must first ascertain the climate of economic practice and opinion in which the program evolved.1 The labor problem was only one phase of the general problem of economic regulation under mercantilism, and a study of the labor codes apart from these general controls would serve to give to labor matters a false emphasis for that time and place. Mercantilism in England may be said to have rested upon two main pillars--the Acts of Trade and the Tudor labor statutes. The first provided for the external regulation and control of foreign trade and the subordination of colonial interests to those of the mother country.2 The second comprised the industrial code and, as the chief of a goodly number of internal economic controls which characterized mercantilist policy, patterned colonial legislation and administrative practice.
The economic practices which prevailed in the American colonies in the seventeenth century combined medieval town regula____________________