A School History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 507 pages of information about A School History of the United States.

%104.  Acts of Trade and Navigation.%—­The number of these acts is very large; but their purpose was four fold: 

1.  They required that colonial trade should be carried on in ships built and owned in England or in the colonies, and manned to the extent of two thirds of the crew by English subjects.

2.  They provided a long list of colonial products that should not be sent to any foreign ports other than a port of England.  Goods or products not in the list might be sent to any other part of the world.  Thus tobacco, sugar, indigo, copper, furs, rice (if the rice was for a port north of Cape Finisterre), must go to England; but lumber, salt fish, and provisions might go (in English or colonial ships) to France, or Spain, or to other foreign countries.

3.  When trade began to spring up between the colonies, and the New England merchants were competing in the colonial markets with English merchants, an act was passed providing that if a product which went from one colony to another was of a kind that might have been supplied from England, it must either go to the mother country and then to the purchasing colony, or pay an export duty at the port where it was shipped, equal to the import duty it would have to pay in England.

4.  No goods were allowed to be carried from any place in Europe to America unless they were first landed at a port in England.[1]

[Footnote 1:  Edward Eggleston’s papers in the Century Magazine, 1884; Scudder’s Men and Manners One Hundred Years Ago; Lodge’s English Colonies.]


1.  The men who began the long struggle for the rights of Englishmen lived in a state of society very different from ours, and were utterly ignorant of most of the commonest things we use in daily life.

2.  Labor was performed by slaves, by criminals sent over to the colonies and sold, and by “indented servants,” or “redemptioners.”

3.  Manufactures were forbidden by the laws of trade.  Nobody was permitted to manufacture iron beyond the state of pig or bar iron, or make woolen goods for export, or make hats.

4.  Taking the colonies in geographical groups, the Eastern were engaged in fishing, in commerce, and in farming; the Middle Colonies were agricultural and commercial; the Southern were wholly agricultural, and raised two great, staples—­rice and tobacco.

5.  As a consequence, town life existed in the Eastern and Middle Colonies, and was little known in the South, particularly in Virginia.

6.  Over the colonies, as a great governing body to aid the King, were the Lords of Trade and Plantations in London.  Under them in America were the royal and proprietary governors, who with the local colonial legislatures managed the affairs of the colonies.


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