British imperial regulations with the American colonies were closely tied in with the system of mercantilism. Mercantilism controls the relations between the leading power and the colonies under its empire. A nation would want to export more than it imports gaining more money to obtain economic stability. The colonies exist for the profit of the mother country. Trade was a vital part of the economy of both England and the British colonies. The colonies would provide a majority of raw materials that would be shipped to England where then they would process raw materials into goods and sell them at markets provided by the colonies.
Within this system both England and the colonies depended on each other for commerce. To further enforce this system on their oversees empire England enacted the Navigation Laws. In 1650 the first of these laws was aimed at keeping trade between the colonies limited only to their mother country, England. The law restricted trade of such shippers as the Dutch, by stating all goods must be transported on English vessels to or from the colonies. This helped keep money within British control, but also increased both England's and the colonies' merchant marine. Further laws were passed, but none that imposed strict regulations on the colonies.
In fact the colonies received advantages from the mercantile system of England. As colonies of England they had the rights of Englishmen. They also had some opportunities of self-government. As compared economically to the average Englishmen of the time, the average American colonist was more often better off.
In some markets, such as tobacco, the colonies had great advantages. Although not allowed to trade tobacco with any other country; they were guaranteed a monopoly on the English market. One of the major advantages of British imperialism was the protection supplied by the British army. With the strong soldiers providing defense against natives and other inter colonial disputes and the mighty British navy protecting their commerce on the seas; the colonies benefited from great advantages provided by their oversees 'rulers'; . Although the colonists prospered from the British imperialism, they also however, dealt with many disadvantages from the British. In 1733 the British Parliament, feeling tension from the planters in the British West Indies, enacted the Molasses Act.
The planters were competing against the French West Indies for trade with the North American colonies and considering the colonies were a part of the British empire, as were the British West Indies, the colonies trade was restricted from trading with the French West Indies. Trade was a major source of their commerce and the colonists did not respond well to losing some of their markets. They therefore sometimes would result to illegal smuggling because at the early enactment of such laws the enforcement was somewhat lenient. Nonetheless the colonists did not react well to the British's imperialistic encroachment upon the freedoms. The colonists were also subject to the mercy of the British merchants. Falling prices in England left the colonists helpless as they could easily fall into deeper and deeper debt.
Tension grew as the colonists were having to deal more with this unfair advantage. The colonists could not control conditions that would bring them the most profit. Some colonies' exports were favored more than others. The southern colonies produced such crops as tobacco and rice which were not grown in England. They therefore would not be in competition with the British merchants, and more in demand than the Northern colonies exports. The most important disadvantaged that British imperialism worked towards was the feeling that the colonies and colonists were being exploited.
They felt they were there for the use of England; for the economic benefit of the mother country. They felt England did not recognize the development that they were undergoing, and as they further hindered their progression; the spirit of revolution would grow.