The Colonial Economy

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How did the colonists view England's trade laws?

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The colonists never really accepted the trade laws that Great Britain established. Going back to the beginning of the colonies when the British passed the Navigation Acts, the colonists found ways to ignore these laws. The trade laws were designed to benefit Great Britain, not the colonies. Thus, the colonists often smuggled molasses into the colonies from places other than Great Britain. This violated the Navigation Acts that required that certain products be bought only from Great Britain and shipped on British ships.

During the years leading to the Revolutionary War, the colonists also resisted some of the trade laws. The colonists believed the Sugar Act of 1764 was illegal because it allowed for searches without warrants to determine if colonists were smuggling products into the colonies. It also put the burden of proof of innocence on the colonists instead of on the government. Even though the Sugar Act lowered the tax on molasses, the colonists still were opposed to this law. The colonists protested this law, and some colonists agreed to reduce their purchase of luxury goods from Great Britain as well as to begin to make some of their own products instead of buying them from Great Britain. The colonists also protested the Tea Act that gave the British East India Tea Company a monopoly on the trade of tea. This law led to the Boston Tea Party when the colonists dumped a large amount of tea in Boston Harbor.

The British passed many trade laws. The colonists never really supported many of these trade laws.

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