Navigation Acts : Stoke-on-Trent Local History



The Navigation Acts were repealed in 1849 and Stoke-on-Trent Liberal M.P. John Lewis Ricardo was instrumental in obtaining this repeal.

Navigation Acts, legislation passed by the English Parliament in the 17th and 18th centuries to promote and protect industry and commerce at home against foreign competition. The acts were sometimes called Acts of Trade and Navigation. The Navigation Act of 1651 stipulated that goods imported or exported by English colonies in Africa, Asia, or America be shipped on vessels constructed by English shipbuilders and sailed by crews that were at least 75 per cent English. Goods imported from the colonies into England also had to arrive on English vessels. Goods from foreign countries were restricted to vessels from the exporting nation or to English ships. The term English referred to individual nationality and not to place of residence, and the colonists and colonial shipping were considered English. The act of 1660 specified certain articles—principally tobacco, rice, and indigo—that the colonists could export only to another English colony or to England. Later statutes such as the Woollens Act of 1699, the Hat Act of 1732, and the Iron Act of 1750 were attempts to prevent manufacturing in the British colonies that might threaten the industrial economy of England.

The acts were a development of mercantilism, an economic policy prevailing in Europe through the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The regulations had clear advantages for British subjects in the American colonies. American shipbuilding prospered because of the requirement that all vessels be English-made. Producers of most of the named articles found a stable, protected market in England and in their sister colonies. A system of export bounties and rebates was set up and actually kept prices of English goods lower than those that would have prevailed under a system of open competition.

During the period of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), however, when Parliament was forced to seek increased revenues to pay the costs of defending the American colonies, British officials determined to levy heavier duties under the provisions of the Navigation Acts. American colonists found these duties onerous, and they are usually considered among the indirect causes of the American War of Independence. The Navigation Acts were repealed in 1849.

Source: MS Encarta



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