The Navigation Acts, or the Acts of Trade and Navigation, were a series of laws passed by the British Parliament over a number of decades that regulated how colonists were legally allowed to trade with other countries. Essentially, many of the Navigation Acts required colonists to only trade certain goods, such as tobacco, sugar, and indigo with England, thus benefiting England's economy. This also strengthened the Industrial revolution in England in the mid-eighteenth century as raw materials for England's textile mills were shipped from the American colonies.
However, many colonists were infuriated by the restrictions on their ability to trade with other countries. As such, smuggling of goods to other countries was a common place tactic. Smuggling before the era of mass surveillance and large police departments was a rather achievable process in which colonists were able to continue their business of illicit trading.
Throughout the mid-1700s, the English government attempted to increase trade restrictions and increase enforcement against smuggling. The tensions, as a result, continued to rise and colonial anger continued to spread against the English crown. This decades-long struggle between smugglers and English parliament and their enforcers only served to strengthen tensions that led to the Revolutionary War of 1776.