Duties on Colonial Commerce by the English Board of Trade - North American Colonies

Taken from The British Empire in the Nineteenth Century (1898) by Edgar Sanderson

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Elihu Yale, was established at Newhaven, in Connecticut, and now, as Yale University, has a high position among American seats of learning, with schools for students in theology, arts, medicine, law, and science. In 1699 the North American Colonies had probably attained to a population of 300,000, of whom the bulk were found in New England, Virginia, Maryland, and New York. About one-sixth of the whole, or 50,000, were negro slaves, four-fifths of whom belonged to the southern settlements, where the hotter climate caused a demand for labour unsuited to whites. It is significant of coming opinions and action on the great question of slavery that, so early as 1705, the legislature of Massachusetts, sitting at Boston, imposed a duty of £4 a-head on every imported negro.

Symptoms of coming trouble made themselves observed in 1761, when the restrictions and duties placed on colonial commerce by the English Board of Trade caused a large amount of smuggling, and many evasions of the obnoxious Navigation Acts. In the struggle against the French and their Indian allies, ending in 1763, the men of different colonies, living under diverse systems of rule, had been brought together, to fight side by side in a common quarrel, and, with the better knowledge of each other gained as comrades, the colonists laid aside provincial jealousies, and learned the strength and helpful spirit of union. They had been contending as one nation, apart from the mother country, though they fought, in many cases, side by side with British troops, whose officers caused much irritation by open contempt for the unskilled, however brave, colonial soldiers. A democratic spirit had arisen in the use of self-government, and some of the colonies had long been accustomed only to taxation voted by their own legislatures. A sense of freedom and independence was abroad, and the people had grown conscious of their strength. Education had much advanced, especially in New England, and seven other colleges had followed the foundation of Harvard and Yale. The chief industry was agriculture, but manufactures of hats, paper, shoes, furniture, coarse cutlery, and cloth-weaving had been developed in the northern colonies. A large coasting-trade existed, and the bold fishermen of New England were prominent among the whalers of Arctic seas. The chief mode of travel was on foot or horseback, and by means of coasting sloops, though coaches … continue reading »

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