History of Domestic and Foreign Commerce of the United States - Vol. 1

By Emory R. Johnson; T. W. Van Metre et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V.
THE EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN COMMERCE FROM 1660 TO 1700.
Significance of the period , 66.
Economic and political status of the colonies from 1660 to 1700, 67.
Leading industries: agriculture , 70,
fur trade , 71,
appropriation of forest resources, 71,
the fisheries , 72,
manufactures , 72,
ship-building , 72.
The maritime trade of the colonies as a whole, 73.
New England's commerce , 75.
The trade of New York and East Jersey, 77.
The trade of Pennsylvania, West Jersey, and Delaware, 78.
The commerce of Maryland and Virginia and the Carolinas , 79.
General survey of commercial conditions , 81.

The history of the external trade of the colonies from 1660 to the War of Independence can be presented to advantage by considering it from three points of view: The commerce of the colonies considered as a whole; the industries and trade of the natural territorial subdivisions, New England, the middle and the southern colonies; and the trade of the colonies with the different sections of the world with which commerce was carried on, Great Britain, the continent of Europe, the West Indies, and Africa. The exchanges of the colonies with each other, which were of less volume and value than was their over-sea trade, will receive separate treatment in another chapter.

It will be convenient and add to clearness to subdivide into two parts the period of one hundred and fifteen years of the development of the commerce of the American colonies under the British Acts of Trade as enacted in 1660, and to discuss in turn the last four decades of the seventeenth century, and the seventy-five years of the eighteenth century that preceded the Declaration of Independence.

The close of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century marks a good point of time at which to take a survey of colonial commerce, to note what progress has been made, and to take account of the political and economic conditions to which trade development was subject. All of the colonies, except Georgia, had been settled by 1700; their political institutions had been given permanent form by the reorganization of their governments following close upon the overthrow of the Stuarts and the accession of William III; in each colony the settlers had ascertained what industries were profitable; and the lines of external trade had been marked out.

The policy of trade regulation adopted by England upon the restoration of the Stuarts had been continued and strengthened by Parliament after William came to the throne; and, with the exception of the unenforced Molasses Act of 1733, there were no trade laws passed by Parliament from the beginning of the seventeenth century until 1764--not even the acts limiting certain colonial manufactures--that may rightly

-66-

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