Business and the Government
A FLEXIBLE and independent government, responsive to popular pressures, encouraged different economic groups in the state to solicit legislation favorable to their interests. Merchants, landowners, security holders, and debtors all sought to influence public policy through the available political channels. The small but enterprising business community, free from British mercantilistic restraints but at the same time conscious of the existence of formidable barriers to economic progress, was especially concerned with the promotion of measures that would foster the development of commerce. Although little help could be expected from the impotent Congress of the Confederation, the legislature, it seemed, might do much to stimulate foreign trade by enacting appropriate regulations. A variety of proposals were advanced by the mercantile element to accomplish the desired objective, but these plans won only incomplete acceptance and were foredoomed to failure. The experience served to emphasize New Jersey's dependence on New York and Philadelphia markets and to accent the need for vesting in the central government comprehensive and exclusive authority over commerce.