Navigation Act Of 1763 Colonial America
The English Navigation Acts were a series of laws which restricted the use of foreign shipping for trade between England and its colonies. These acts played a key role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars and later also came to be one of the reasons of umbrage in the American colonies against Great Britain, thereby, leading to the American Revolutionary War.
In fact, the Navigation Acts were a cause of annoyance throughout the colonial period. The main aim of these acts was to protect English shipping and to gain profit to the home country from the colonies. Since the era of Richard II, several measures ensuring the protection of shipping were undertaken. However, it was only in 1651 that any British statutes acutely hindered colonial trade.
In 1642, the Long Parliament exempted New England exports and imports from all duties. Thereafter, all goods transported to the southern colonies in English vessels were put on the free list. It was in 1651, during the times of Cromwell that the first of the famous Navigation Acts was passed. The acts in principal stated that no goods grown or manufactured in Asia, Africa or America should be transported to England except in English vessels. Also, the goods of any European country imported into England must be brought in British vessels or in vessels of the manufacturing country. The law mainly hit at the fame of the Dutch maritime trade. However, it was not adhered to strictly in any part especially in New England.
The second act was passed in the year 1660. It included the facts of the previous act and some additional measures as well. This act forbade the importing into or the exporting from the British colonies of any goods except in English or colonial ships. It also restricted the shipment of certain specified articles such as tobacco, sugar, cotton, wool and dyeing woods into any country, except to England or some English plantation. Such goods were to pay heavy duties when shipped to England. Moreover, in 1672 the same duties were imposed on goods sold from one colony to another. The list of articles did not comprise of grain, salt provisions and fish as these were produced in England and therefore would have had a disastrous effect on the English producer. Two other laws that encumbered the development of the colonies were the Corn Laws and the laws against manufacturing. These laws were far more effective than the Navigation Acts.
In 1708, New York manufactured three fourths of the woolen and linen goods used in the colony and also fur hats in immense quantity, many of which were shipped to Europe and the West Indies. This trade was largely suppressed by the English laws. In 1732, an act forbade the exporting of hats to England, to foreign countries or from one colony to another. It further levied a restriction on the number of employees in the manufacturing process. Although, iron was found in all the colonies and forges and furnaces were set up in many places; in 1750 Parliament enacted a law putting a stoppage on the establishment of any mill or other engine for rolling or slitting iron or any furnace for making steel in the colonies. One of the most inconsiderate England laws that grossly suppressed colonial trade was the Molasses Act of 1733. This led to levying of prohibitive duties on molasses and sugar, from the French West Indies to the colonies.
The northern colonies suffered deeply by the trade laws since they produced the same goods as England; while the southern colonies, which grew commodities, such as tobacco and rice, which could not be duplicated in England, suffered far less. However, despite the efforts of the Board of Trade and Plantations, the Navigation Acts could be narrowly enforced resulting in the breaking of law and smuggling.
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