The Mercantile System was a system created by a country that owned colonies so that the colonizing country would benefit economically from having these colonies. Great Britain is an example of a country that used the Mercantile System. The British had colonies throughout the world, and they expected their colonies to provide many benefits to them.
With the British colonies in North America, a series of rules called the Navigation Acts were established to help Great Britain. For example, the colonists had to ship products such as wool, cotton, and sugar, on British ships. Trade also had to go through British ports. Under the ideals of the Mercantile System, the colonies provided raw materials to Great Britain, and then the British would sell the finished products made in Great Britain back to the colonies. The British benefited from this relationship in several ways. The British were able to get raw materials cheaply from their colonies. If they bought the raw materials from other countries, the British would have paid more for them. The British also had a guaranteed marketplace with their colonies, as they were able to sell their products there.
The Mercantile System was partially successful. Because the British didn’t often enforce the laws closely, the colonists were able to smuggle items such as molasses into the colonies from other countries. When the British eventually tried to enforce the regulations more closely, the colonists weren’t happy. The British did benefit by getting the raw materials cheaply from the colonies and by selling the finished products to them.
Triangular trade refers to trade between three places. Many triangular trade routes involved Great Britain and/or the British colonies. For example, the British would send finished products to Africa. Africa would send slaves to the Americas. The Americas would send various products including rum, cotton, and tobacco to Great Britain. Another triangular trade route had rum and finished goods going from the British North American colonies to Africa. Slaves went from Africa to the West Indies, and rum and molasses went from the West Indies to the British colonies in North America.