Colonial Policy And Administration
The Restoration.—In 1660 Charles II was restored to the English throne and ruled until 1685, when his brother, James, the Duke of York, became king, ruling until deposed in 1688. In England the period was characterized by a reaction against Puritanism and the firm establishment of the English church. Abroad the Restoration was an era of commercial and colonial expansion. On the coasts of Asia, Africa, and America, the great trading companies were active, and powerful English nobles strove for possessions beyond the seas. To this era belong the occupation of New Netherlands, the founding of the Carolinas, the Jerseys, and Pennsylvania, and the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Fur Company. The activities of Englishmen led to clashes with rival commercial peoples, especially the Dutch, with whom two naval wars were fought in which England maintained her supremacy upon the seas. In the handling of her colonies previous to the Restoration, her efforts had been largely experimental. Under the later Stuarts colonial management was molded into a system. In private life Charles II was a man of pleasure. In his dealings with parliament he was tenacious, but when pushed to extremities, he preferred to yield rather than to "go again on his travels.". In matters which affected the material prosperity of his country the king was a hard-headed man of business, warmly supporting commercial and colonial enterprises.
The Mercantilist system.—The economic theory of the time was expressed in the Mercantilist system. The welfare of the state was the main object of statesmen; this they believed required a full treasury, a large population, and extensive shipping. Specie was looked upon as the principal form of wealth; therefore exports must exceed imports so that coin would flow into the realm. In order that it might have a large amount of goods to sell, the state desired to import raw materials, which could be manufactured and exported. The ideal colony was to be a source of supply of raw materials, and was to be a market for goods of the mother country, but was not to be a manufacturing competitor. The state policy was shaped to shut out the foreigner and to build up the productivity of the colonies.
Attitude toward emigration.—The desire for a larger population in England caused statesmen to view emigration with disfavor. During the period the number going to the colonies was relatively small. The government, however, encouraged the emigration of Scotch, Irish, and Huguenots, and sent over many political prisoners, non-conformists, and criminals. Many of those who emigrated were too poor to pay for their passage and bound themselves for a period of years, a form of temporary bondage known as indenture. Many servants and children were also kidnaped and sent to the colonies. Because the colonies in the West Indies and the South mainly produced raw materials and used slave labor, thus drawing relatively less population from England, they were looked upon with the greater favor by the home government. The northern colonies produced little except fish, furs, and naval stores, which could be of use to England. The free labor system of the North was likely to drain the population of England. For these reasons the northern colonies were looked upon with scant favor.
Navigation Act of 1660.—During the Cromwellian period, parliament had asserted the right to legislate for the colonies and the restored Stuarts accepted the principle. In 1660 a new navigation act was passed which was intended to give English shipping an advantage over competitors, especially the Dutch. The act provided that goods carried to or from English possessions in America, Africa, or Asia, must be carried in English, Irish, or colonial vessels. Under penalty of forfeiture, cargoes of sugar, tobacco, indigo, and several other products could not be shipped to any ports except in England, Ireland, or some English colony.
Staple Act of 1663.—Under the navigation act of 1660 alien merchants could send foreign goods to the colonies in English ships. To obviate this the Staple Act was passed, which, with a few exceptions, such as Portuguese wines, salt, and horses, prohibited the importation into the colonies of goods which had not been loaded in England.
Plantation Duties Act of 1673.—Under the previous acts goods shipped from colony to colony escaped paying duties. In 1673 an act was passed which imposed duties on sugar, tobacco, and many other products of intercolonial trade.
Imperial defence.—The burden of defence of the empire against foreign powers fell upon England. Ships of the navy were stationed in the West Indies, Chesapeake Bay, and at Boston to protect the colonies, and suppress piracy and illegal trade. The buccaneers of the West Indies were brought under control. The Barbary pirates also were frequently attacked, and convoys for merchant vessels and fishing fleets were often furnished. Garrisons were usually stationed in Barbados, Jamaica, and St. Kitts, but on the mainland soldiers were not regularly maintained.
The fiscal system.—By the civil war parliament made good its contention that it alone had the right to levy taxes. In 1660 a general taxation act was passed by which Charles II was granted for life the income from tonnage and poundage; the former being a duty on imported wines, the latter a five per cent duty on imports and exports, whose valuation was fixed in a book of rates. To compensate the colonies somewhat for the resulting higher prices, a preferential system was introduced. By this system the valuation of the principal products of the colonies was made lower than on the same products coming from foreign countries.
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