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First Conflicts: The English Mercantilist System. Mercantilism. Colonial-era economic theory that supported the belief that nations become wealthy and powerful by accumulating gold and silver Gold and silver are accumulated by exporting (selling) more than you import (buy). Mercantilism.

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  • Colonial-era economic theory that supported the belief that nations become wealthy and powerful by accumulating gold and silver

  • Gold and silver are accumulated by exporting (selling) more than you import (buy)


  • In the mercantilist model, a nation must be self-sufficient in natural resources

  • The American Colonies, rich in natural resources, become valuable in supporting the wealth of England

  • The Colonies also become valuable markets for the manufactured goods produced by English businesses

English mercantilism
English Mercantilism

  • As a result, England did not allow the Colonies to sell natural resources to other nations, nor did they allow the Colonies to buy manufactured goods from other nations

  • In essence, the economy of the Colonies was monopolized by the English, for the benefit of England – not the Colonies

English mercantilism1
English Mercantilism

  • So, the Colonies had to sell their raw materials to English merchants at relatively low prices because that was the only legal outlet available

  • English merchants, however, could charge the Colonies high prices for manufactured goods, because the merchants faced no outside competition

Consequences of mercantilism
Consequences of Mercantilism

  • British merchants grew wealthy

  • Many colonists began to go into debt due to having to borrow money to buy the things they needed or wanted

  • Some colonists, especially in New England, began to engage in illegal smuggling to avoid the mercantilist system

Navigation acts
Navigation Acts

  • First issued in 1660

  • All goods imported or exported by the Colonies had to be carried on English ships

  • Limited what goods could be manufactured in the Colonies for export

  • Tobacco, sugar, lumber, cotton, wool, and indigo could only be sold to England or other English colonies

Staple act
Staple Act

  • 1663

  • All imports to the Colonies had to come through England

  • Foreign goods had to first be brought to England and taxed before they could be delivered to the Colonies on English ships

  • This raised the price on imports to the Colonies

Customs inspectors
Customs Inspectors

  • When angry Colonists began to break the new laws, Parliament (the English legislature) appointed customs inspectors to serve in the Colonies and inspect all arriving and departing ships to ensure that taxes had been paid and that all shipments were legitimate


  • 1675: King Charles II discovered that New England merchants were routinely ignoring the Navigation and Staple Acts by trading with the Dutch, Africa, and islands in the Caribbean

  • Massachusetts’ governor argued that the colony was not bound to obey laws passed by Parliament

The dominion of new england
The Dominion of New England

  • 1686: King James II (Charles II’s brother and heir) decided to punish New England by merging the Massachusetts, Plymouth, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, & New York colonies into one royal colony called the Dominion of New England

  • The Dominion was administered by a royally appointed governor-general who answered directly to the king

The dominion of new england1
The Dominion of New England

  • James ordered all colonial assemblies and courts abolished and gave the governor-general the power to make laws, impose taxes, administer justice, and manage all land grants

Sir edmund andros
Sir Edmund Andros

  • Appointed first governor-general of the Dominion

  • Immediately declared all deeds and charters issued in Massachusetts to be invalid and made landholders reapply to have their deeds recognized

  • To get a new deed, landholders had to agree to pay a new annual tax

Sir edmund andros1
Sir Edmund Andros

  • Used military force to enforce the Navigation and Staple Acts

  • Attacked the Puritan church by declaring that all marriages must take place in Anglican churches (the king was head of the Anglican church) and by banning Puritans from teaching in schools

Sir edmund andros2
Sir Edmund Andros

  • So Andros had made enemies of:

    • New England land owners

    • New England merchants

    • Puritans

  • New Englanders were primed for a violent showdown when ….

The glorious revolution
The Glorious Revolution

  • King James II was overthrown in a bloodless revolution in favor of his daughter, Mary II and her husband William III

  • Parliament had become suspicious of James because he was a Catholic, and so offered the throne to his Protestant daughter, prompting James to flee for France

The english bill of rights
The English Bill of Rights

  • Parliament required that William & Mary swear to abide by a new set of rules before they could take the throne, however

  • This agreement came to be known as the English Bill of Rights and would later strongly influence the U.S. Constitution

English bill of rights
English Bill of Rights

  • Parliament is superior to the king

  • Parliament must be allowed to meet regularly

  • House of Commons controls the treasury (taxes)

  • King can not dismiss or interfere with Parliament

  • King can not suspend laws

  • King can not be Catholic

  • King can not maintain a standing army

  • King can not quarter soldiers in people’s private homes

English bill of rights1
English Bill of Rights

  • Citizens get trial by jury

  • No cruel or unusual punishment

  • Writ of Habeas corpus – no one can be arrested and imprisoned without being charged with a crime

  • Citizens have the right to bear arms

Back in america
Back in America …

  • Andros and his councilors were imprisoned and later deported back to England

  • William & Mary dissolved the Dominion of New England, but did not restore the old colonial order

The new massachusetts
The New Massachusetts

  • The colonies of Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey were restored, but Massachusetts was merged with Plymouth and the sparsely populated region of Maine into a new royal colony of Massachusetts

The new massachusetts1
The New Massachusetts

  • Under Massachusetts’ new charter, the king would appoint a governor, but the colonists were allowed to elect an assembly and appoint advisors to the governor

  • Freedom of religion (and voting privileges, if you owned land) was also granted to all Protestants, breaking the Puritans’ religious and political monopoly in the colony