A GOLDEN FLEECING
OF those who profited from the labor of Virginia's tobacco growers after 1660, the king stood foremost. Royal interest in the wealth that came from tobacco long antedated Berkeley's efforts to renovate Virginia's economy. Already in 1619 James I, even as he denounced the evils of tobacco, had tried to gain for the crown some of the profits of supplying Englishmen with it. 1 Charles I had also tried, also unsuccessfully, to talk Virginians into giving him or his favorites the exclusive right to market their product. 2 But the royal government had another way to collect the lion's share of the profits from tobacco: by requiring the colonists to ship their crop to the mother country, where an import duty could be collected on it.
The first edict requiring shipment to England was issued in I62I, 3 but could not be effectively enforced; and while the English were preoccupied with their Civil Wars, the Dutch had taken the opportunity to enter the trade. During the years when the Virginians were establishing their society, it was mainly the Dutch who carried off their tobacco. When Cromwell first began to gather in the strings of empire in the I650s, London merchants stood behind him in the attempt to wrest from the Dutch their control of trade everywhere. And when Charles II took the throne in 1660, the same merchants had joined him in moves to make as much as possible out____________________