English Mercantile Capitalism

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The American Revolution encompasses a dual revolution; one facet includes the War of Independence while the other phase involves an effort within the colonies to address class hegemony in political and economic life (Brown 47). British economic tyranny and restrictive parliamentary legislature to deal with conflict between English mercantile capitalism and colonial commercial activity led to the War of Independence. However, grievances of colonial tyranny like profiteering monopolists and the domination of political power by merchant aristocrats at home behind the façade of patriotism inspired the grassroots radical stage of the American Revolution within the colonies. English mercantile capitalism relied on colonial economic…show more content…
In response to competition, the Molasses Act made trade with foreign West Indies partners illegal. This was possible because Parliament had a heavy influence of English merchant-capitalist interest advocated by a sugar bloc of plantation lords that preserved the sugar monopoly. The English also manipulated the tobacco market and tried to maintain the fur trade with the Proclamation of 1763 (Gipson 61). This alienated southern planters; northern merchants felt cheated by English efforts at underselling colonial merchants and establishing English monopolies on tea and sugar. The Great War for Empire did not help the situation. Because the colonists were trading with the French enemy, Britain introduced even more punitive measures like a peacetime navy, writs of assistance, vice-admiralty courts, a board of customs commissioners, and customs officials to enforce the Trade and Navigation Acts (Gipson 56). After the war, the Grenville ministry asked the colonists to service the immense war debt for a war that the colonists believed was strictly England’s responsibility. This emphasized differences in economic interests. Hacker further highlights the dichotomy between the interests…show more content…
The gap between the rich and the poor widened. Also, the number of adult males without property doubled in the same time period, which also meant the loss of voting rights. Thus, the merchants kept their political positions. State constitutions placed further limitations on suffrage because conservatives did not want runaway democracy. This gave tradesmen radical tendencies, as they grew restive in their demands for reform. Queen Anne’s War and King George’s War further accentuated differences in wealth as the merchants profited handsomely, but most experienced higher taxes, unemployment, poverty, and impressment into the navy (Zinn 52). Similarly, as the began, necessities experienced a rise in price, and merchants grew rich by cornering commodities, which is known as profiteering. As colonial society took on the dimension of class struggle, the lower classes began to view the Revolution as a conduit for gaining their own freedom. As Hacker explains it, “Men of little property were weighed down by debts and oppressed by an inadequate currency; they were forced to support, in many

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