Explain this quote, "England discovered its colonies and their importance around 1650."

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This quote, from the US history textbook Liberty, Equality, Power refers to the fact that the English government really took an interest in profiting from its colonial possessions in the aftermath of the English Civil War. This period was also the period of Dutch commercial expansion, including in the New World, and the English entered into a series of wars with the Netherlands that lasted from 1652 to 1674. In this context, Parliament passed the Navigation Acts, which were aimed at preventing Dutch ships from trading in English colonies. Oliver Cromwell, in particular, was interested in expanding English possessions and increasing profits from America, particularly from the burgeoning sugar industry. To this end, the English navy seized Jamaica, which would become the most profitable colony in the New World. After the Restoration, the policy would continue, with the English grabbing New Amsterdam from the Dutch. In short, the English government sought to exert more power over the colonies in an effort to expand their strategic and economic interests. This policy, which was entirely consistent with the economic principle of mercantilism, accelerated the growth of the Atlantic economy as well as English possessions in the New World.


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