Why did the colonists resent mercantilism so much? 

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The colonists resented the idea of mercantilism because it reduced their ability to make money and their freedom to trade with whoever they wanted.

In order to understand this, let us first look at what mercantilism is.  Mercantilism is the theory that a country can only become richer by exporting more than it imports.  In this view, free trade is a bad thing and countries should try to set up their trade in such a way that their exports are much more valuable than their imports.

The colonists did not like this because it led the English government to limit how the colonists could trade.  The English government did not let the colonists trade with other countries.  They wanted everything that the colonists made to come to England.  England could then export the goods to other countries.  This meant that the colonists could not get good deals on the things they had to sell because they were limited to selling to England.  The colonists could only buy things from England, thus making them have to pay higher prices.

For these reasons, the colonists did not like the idea of mercantilism.

mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

The colonists didn’t like the system of mercantilism. Mercantilism is a system that is designed to benefit the country that has established the colonies. The colonizing country establishes colonies in order to make money and to profit by having the colonies. They pass laws that are designed to benefit them instead of the colonies.

For example, the British established colonies in North America. The British passed a series of laws, known as the Navigation Acts, which restricted what the colonists could do. The colonists were restricted from trading with other countries. They also had to use British ships to transport products. Even though the colonists could get products cheaper from other countries, they weren’t legally allowed to do this. The British expected the colonies to provide raw materials so that the factories in Great Britain could make products that would then be sold to the colonists.

For many years, the British were lax in enforcing these laws. As a result, the colonists smuggled items into the colonies. However, once the British began to crack down on the smuggling, the colonists were not pleased.

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