ACTS OF TRADE, a series of acts to regulate trade passed by the British Parlia ment between 1660 and 1674. These acts levied heavy duties in England on agricultural prod ucts and salt provisions imported from the col onies. The intent was to protect the British landlord, but the actual result was to force the colonists to seek other markets where they could exchange their produce for manufactured materials and eventually to erect their own manufactories. On non-colonial importations heavy or prohibitory duties were imposed to give protection to colonial products which were admitted into England under nominal duties. Enumerated goods (such as sugar, tobacco, cot ton, hemp, grain, meats, indigo, ginger, fustic, molasses, South Carolina rice, etc.) were re quired to be shipped to England and heavy duties were levied upon intercolonial trade so as to force the shipment of such articles to England. In order to prevent trade with other countries or their colonies and to encourage the colonial production of articles obtained therein, heavy prohibitory duties were laid on all non-English goods imported into the col onies. The colonies were either greatly re stricted in their production of or prohibited altogether to manufacture woolens, linens, hats, iron and many of its products, since the manu facturers of the mother country greatly feared the competition of the colonists in these ar ticles. Indeed the imposition of a duty on Eng lish manufacturers by Massachusetts and a slight discrimination in favor of her ship building industry led the British ship-builders to exclaim that the colonists would soon %c able to live without Great Britain; and their ability, joined to their inclination, [would] be of very ill consequence." But the colonies were
benefited to a degree by the two bounties granted by the government: First, that paid directly to the colonists to encourage the pro duction of indigo in South Carolina and of naval stores, such as masts, hemp, flax, lumber, pitch and tar; and second, that paid to British manufacturers which reduced the prices to co lonial consumers. Irish linen was allowed to be shipped to the colonists duty free, salt needed for curing fish might be imported from any European port, and drawbacks were al lowed on goods warehoused in England and then shipped to the colonies. The colonists were allowed later to ship grain, lumber, salt provisions, fish, sugar and rum to any port in the world, provided these goods were carried in English or colonial ships, of which the owners and three-fourths of the crews were British subjects.
At first the acts of trade were so unpro ductive of revenue that the funds raised there by in the colonies did not pay the costs of ad ministration, but in 1764 a statute known as the Sugar Act" was passed containing the provisions of the previous •Molasses Act," and an attempt was made to collect the duties which had been placed purely on a revenue basis. This indicated that the home government in tended to convert the acts of trade into rev enue acts, which later was demonstrated by the passage of the Stamp Act (q.v.) and the Townshend Acts. These were among the con tributing causes of the Revolutionary War. See