The English Navigation Laws: A Seventeenth-Century Experiment in Social Engineering

The English Navigation Laws: A Seventeenth-Century Experiment in Social Engineering

The English Navigation Laws: A Seventeenth-Century Experiment in Social Engineering

The English Navigation Laws: A Seventeenth-Century Experiment in Social Engineering

Excerpt

The Navigation Acts are among the most famous of English mercantile measures. Child called the Act of 1660, some decades after its enactment, the "Charta Maritima" of English shipping, and more than a century later Adam Smith, less iconoclastic than some of his disciples, added his praise. The subject has been discussed by many whose interests centered on broader problems, but it has never been studied for what it was, a deliberately planned attempt to regulate economic conduct along predetermined lines--or, to put it more briefly, an experiment in social engineering.

Although my ideas have undoubtedly been influenced by the right-about-face in American governmental theories since 1932, its effect has probably not been great. My interest in the subject can be traced back to ambitions awakened by the enthusiasm of Professor F. J. Teggart of the University of California for discovering how things work, and to the emphasis laid by Professor Karl Llewellyn upon the need for knowing more than the laws as they appear upon the statute books. The chief extra-documentary factors influencing my conclusions have probably been an undergraduate major in political science, a three-year course in law, and practical legal experience acquired while specializing in customs litigation.

The investigation was begun in the autumn of 1925 when I was in England. The major part of the preliminary work was done from original sources before making any extended investigation of the secondary works. This method enabled me to formulate my basic views uninfluenced by those of others, but I am fully aware of the extent of my indebtedness to such writers as Beer, Andrews, Oppenheim, Lipson, Barbour, Nef, Root, Pitman, and Shaw, whose illuminating researches have so often been used to confirm, supplement, modify, or confute my tentative theories. Unfortunately the recent books of Harrington, Judah, Hunter, Lounsbury, and Nettels, and Labaree's invaluable collection of instructions to governors were not available to lighten my original labors, but have been helpful in mak-

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.