The Navigation Acts tied the American colonies into the British imperial market, restricting the colonies’ trade with other powers and encouraging smuggling. Because colonial ships were considered to be English, the acts contributed to the growth of American shipbuilding. After the American Revolution, American ships were no longer colonial vessels, so the acts restricted the ability of the United States to trade with Great Britain.
The Navigation Act of 1651 prohibited non-English vessels from importing goods into England or Ireland.
Subsequent amendments and modifications to the Navigation Acts tightened the restrictions on foreign trade to the colonies and imposed duties on trade between colonies. Scottish traders were originally excluded from colonial trade by the acts, but that changed after Scotland united with England to form Great Britain in 1707. Enforcement of the acts was never complete, but they nevertheless aroused much resentment in the colonies, contributing to the outbreak of the American Revolution. After the revolution, American ships were defined as “foreign,” and the United States’ ability to trade with Britain was restricted. The acts were finally repealed in 1849, as part of the British free trade movement.
Colonial economic systems
European trade with the United States
International economics and trade
Royal Charters of North American colonies
Stamp Act of 1765