Mercantilism is an outdated analysis of finances, which was common from 16th to 18th century. By definition, “the theory states that the world only contained a fixed amount of wealth and that to increase a countries wealth, one country had to take some wealth from another either through having a higher import/export ratio or in actual conquest of new lands and resources” ( Magnusson 5).
During those times, a country’s economy heavily depended on mineral resources that they had and the primary objective of this economic policy was to guarantee a net optimistic inflow of valuable metals by trading. The backbone of Mercantilism integrated chartered corporation for instance the French Royal African Company, the Dutch West India Company, and the utilization of armed forces to chase business supremacy.
The English and French purged Dutch rivalry from the Americas by overpowering the Dutch in a sequence of fighting from 1652 to 1678. The English and French colonies afterward canceled the domination rights of their chartered corporations, although sustained to employ elevated tariffs to put off outsiders from having contact to do business with their protectorates. The Atlantic turned into the key transaction region for the Portuguese, the French, and the British in the 18th century (Bairoch 270; Davis 306).
During those times, purchasing goods from another state were highly discouraged, as it was perceived as a state of depriving off their precious metals. As a result, mercantilism ways of trading aimed at restricting liberated function of marketplaces and establish stern limitations on financial doings, for example, protectionist actions that controlled trade in, and regime funding of domination, which permitted stringent control on a number of features in the financial system that was to be maintained.
At around 1500, European settlers launched sugar-cane farming on slave farms of West Indies and later in early 16th century, the English and French nationals established protectorates founded on tobacco farming. With the introduction of profitable crops, the way of trade changed whereby countries could import and/or export raw materials and finished products without feeling that their precious metals was not being taken away.
Crop cultivation in West Indies and particularly tobacco inspired by new developments such as the accessibility of inexpensive manual labor “in the form of European indentured servants and the formation of chartered companies” (Harley 8). Here with cheap labor from slave, it was easy to cultivate a large track of land and sell the produce at a competitive price to other states, which actually opened market, and eventually states moved away from being protectionist to liberalists.
On the other hand, the Portuguese had initiated sugar-cane farming to the Dutch West India Company and Brazil, which brought rivalry with Spain, which had grabbed over 1,000 miles of sugar-farming Brazilian coast. They enhanced the competence of sugar industry in Brazil and ferried human slaves from Luanda and Elmina.
With bringing in of cheap labor, the cost of their sugar produce became cheaper as compared to other producers like pre-Columbian European, which compelled other countries to lower prices. As a result, the next two centuries that followed was mainly as Harley puts it, that of taking advantage of openings for sugar farming with manual labor importations and capital or resources.
As time went by, colonies like Guadeloupe, Martinique, and predominantly Barbados shifted to sugar cultivation away from tobacco farming. Because of this, Barbados demand for manual labor lead to a quick and considerable augmentation in the number of the Atlantic slave transaction. With this kind of revolutions, there was of change in the sourcing of slaves where colonies shifted and began to source for imprisoned African manual labor instead of European pact servants.
This steady decrease in the number of European servants was because most of them were no longer eager to have any agreement as servants in the West Indies farms. Additionally, Harley posits that “the fact that the life expectancy of a slave after landing was longer than the term of the typical contract of indenture, and a rise in sugar prices that made planters more able to invest in slaves” (9).
Planting of profitable crops did not only bring positive impacts but also led to negative ones such as deforestation and soil exhaustion. With repeated cultivation of crops, soil became infertile which forced farmers to seek other alternative tract of lands and as a result, deforestation gained momentum (Bairoch 300).
Slaves played a major rule in turning around economic activities.By engaging slaves, the cost of sugar and tobacco drastically went done and paved way for competition among producing nations. At this point, countries become liberalized and exchanged goods without feeling like their resources were being taken away. Slaves were grouped into “gangs” while farming and while others where engaged in carrying out specialized tasks.
Slaves were compensated for excellent work and punished if they delivered poor work. Unfortunately, their life expectancy was short due to poor working conditions and this meant that more slaves were to be brought in from African hence those doing slave trade benefited a lot in this. Furthermore, they never had time to rest, no formal education among other violations of their basic rights.
The progress of the Atlantic structure revealed that the Europeans colonies went further than the invasion and took into custody of existing structures to fashion a fresh business structure, changing the financial systems of regions for example the West Indies.
African slaves contributed a lot to the Atlantic trading structure by providing cheap labor, which transformed sugar-cane market in general. Africa as a continent in generally played an indispensable part Atlantic organization, the Africa itself was not dictated by European colonies as compared to the Americans were.
Bairoch, Paul. “International industrialization levels from 1750 to 1980.” Journal of European Economic History, 11(1982): 269-333.
Davis, Ralph. “The rise of protection in England, 1689-1786.” Economic History Review, 19, 1966: 306-17.
Gaudet, Henry. What is salutary neglect? Conjunction Corporation, 15 Sept. 2008. Web. O4 Dec. 2010.