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W hen Charles II came to the throne in 1660, England was a second-class commercial power, its merchants picking up the crumbs left by the worldwide maritime empire of the Dutch. “What we want is more of the trade the Dutch now have,” declared the Duke of Albemarle, a trusted minister of the king and a proprietor of Carolina. To get it, the English government embarked on a century-long quest for trade and empire. It passed a series of Navigation Acts, designed to exclude Dutch ships from its colonies, and it went to war to destroy Holland’s maritime dominance. By the 1720s, Great Britain (the recently unified kingdoms of England and Scotland) had seized control of the transatlantic trade in American sugar and African slaves. The emerging British Empire, boasted the ardent imperialist Malachy Postlethwayt, “was a magnificent superstructure of American commerce and naval power on an African foundation.” That was only the half of it. British commerce increasingly spanned the world. It exported woolen goods to Europe, America, and Africa. Its merchants bought cotton textiles in India to trade for slaves in West Africa and carried silver to China to exchange for tea, ceramics, and silks. To protect the empire’s valuable sugar colonies and trade routes, British ministers repeatedly went to war, first against the Dutch and then against the French. The goal — to preserve a mercantile system in British America and win “free entry” into the commerce of other empires — was increasingly successful. Boasted one English pamphleteer: “We are, of any nation, the best situated for trade, . . . capable of giving maritime laws to the world.” That dictum included Britain’s North American colonies. When imperial official Edward Randolph reported from New England in the early 1670s that “there is no notice taken of the act of navigation,” the home government undertook to impose its political will on the American settlements. These two words, Negro and Slave, [have become] Homogeneous and Convertible; even as Negro and Christian, Englishman and Heathen, are [now] made opposites. –– The Reverend Morgan Godwyn, 1680 Creating a British Empire in America 1 6 6 0 – 1 7 5 0 3 C H A P T E R 66 © APUS/AMU - Property of Bedford St Martin's - 0-312-62422-0 / 0-312-62423-9 - Copyright 2009
CHAPTER 3 Creating a British Empire in America, 1660–1750 u 67 The Politics of Empire, 1660–1713 Before 1660, England governed its New England and Chesapeake colonies haphaz- ardly. Taking advantage of that laxness and the English civil war, local “big men” (oli- garchies of Puritan magistrates and tobacco planters) ran their societies as they wished. After the monarchy was restored in 1660, royal bureaucrats tried to impose order on the unruly settlements and, enlisting the aid of Indian allies, warred with rival Euro- pean powers.

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