Salutary Neglect- In the early eighteenth century, British governments realised it was best not to stir up trouble in the colonies. When coupled with the difficulty of communications- the colonies were 3000 miles away from Britain- the colonies were left largely to heir own devices. This detached policy is known as salutary neglect. Despite salutary neglect, the common presumption in Britain was that the colonies were subject to parliamentry legislation. The colonists didn't accept this view. Most viewed that they had rights.
- In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries most European governments belived in mercantilism and economic self sufficiency.
- Mercantilists assumed that colonies existed to serve the interests of the mother country, to supply her with raw materials, absorb her manufactures and provide employment for her shipping.
- Between 1651 and 1673 the English parliament put mercantilist ideas into practise into a series of Trade and Navigation Acts designed to establish an English monoply of the colonial carrying trade, the colonial market and certain valuable colonial products.
- All cargoes to or from the colonies were to be carried in ships and built and owned in England or the colonies and manned by predominantly English crews.
- Certain enumerated commodities- sugar, cotton indigo, dyewoods, ginger and tobacco- could only be exported directly from the colonies to England if their ultimate destination lay elsewhere
- Euopean goods bound for America had, with few exceptions, to be landed first in England and then reshipped.
English/British colonial policy remained strictly mercantilist through the early 18th cenutry,
Effects of mercantilist system
Few Americans complained about mercantilist regulaions in the early 18th cenutry. The mercantilist system was not well enforced. While most of the Navigation Acts used stiff duties to compel what they required, not many officals were appointed to collect the duties. The ill paid deputies could be easily bribed, ensuring they often turned a blind eye to infractions of the trade laws. The few laws restrciting colonial production had little effect.
- American products enjoyed a protected market in Britain and the rest of the empire
- Parliament granted generious subsidies to producers for some colonial commodities, such as indigo.
- The American shipbuilding industry profited by the exclusion of foreign ships from colonial trade. By the 1760's one-third of British merchant ships were built in the New England colonies
- As the 18th cenutry progressed, colonial trade played an increasingly important role in the British economy. By the 1760s a third of British imports and exports crossed the Atlantic. The major exports of the colonies were tobacco, flour, fish, rice and wheat.
- The colonies in turn imported a host of British manufacturing goods.
- Trade brought prosperity to British and colonial merchants, shippers, planters and bankers.