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Credit NationProperty Laws and Institutions in Early America$
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Claire Priest

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780691158761

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691158761.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

Colonial Land Distribution and the Structure of British Colonial Commerce

Colonial Land Distribution and the Structure of British Colonial Commerce

(p.21) 1 Colonial Land Distribution and the Structure of British Colonial Commerce
Credit Nation

Claire Priest

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses land distribution in the British American colonies. British policy in the Americas was notable for its goal of putting land into cultivation and for offering small parcels of land to immigrants to achieve the goal. The chapter starts by outlining the structure of British colonial government. It goes on to describe the role of the colonies in the broader conception of Great Britain's commerce, and the legal regulation of colonial trade and credit relationships. Unlike the companies trading in the East, which had imported goods for which they knew a market existed, the companies operating in America had to discover and develop lucrative items for export. But the types of goods that appeared to be marketable, such as tobacco and rice, required labor. Laborers were initially recruited by means of indentured servant contracts, and later coerced by slavery. By 1660, the British government monopolized trade over its colonies in America. The British colonies were united by the reach of comprehensive trade regulations enacted to advance the mercantilist goal of improving England's (and Scotland's) balance of trade. The commercial regulations were enacted in piecemeal fashion and were often the product of highly contested political debate. They are, however, collectively referred to as the “Navigation Acts.”

Keywords:   land distribution, British American colonies, land cultivation, British colonial government, British colonial commerce, colonial trade regulation, credit, slavery, commercial regulations, Navigation Acts

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