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How Mercantilism Helped to Shape the American Nation

Uploaded by Admin on Nov 19, 1999

In the Middle Ages, the definition of wealth was based on the amount of productive land. According to this definition, France was the wealthiest and therefore the most powerful of the European nations. During the sixteenth century the definition of wealth began to change. As the ability to conduct profitable foreign trade increased, so did the amount of cash. Thus, the new definition of wealth came to mean the gain of cash or specie. Specie included gold, silver, or bullion. The wealthiest nation became the one with the most cash, and therefore, the most powerful nation. As the redefining of wealth took hold, there was an increased desire and ability to conduct foreign trade on a larger scale as cash became the new medium of exchange in contrast to bartering. Mercantilism began to take hold of the countries of Europe. Mercantilism was characterized by the governmental regulation of industries, trade, and commerce. This was especially true with foreign trade, and was determined more by national aims rather than individual or local interests. This new quest for trade began the Age of Expansion in the early fourteen hundreds. This era ushered in a search for new sources of revenues, and focus turned toward the colonization of the New World. The Portuguese, Spanish, and English directed many efforts of colonization and development toward this new land in an attempt to establish themselves as the economic leaders of the world. As mercantilism began to change, so did the power flux of the European countries. Thus began the shaping of North America as we know it. The Age of Expansion brought many changes to medieval Europe. During this period, the countries of Europe began to look beyond their borders. In Europe, there was nowhere to grow. This being the case, the only place to turn was west. Portugal came into existence in the early 1400's. It is a small country bordered on one side by the sea, and by Spain on the other. Out of necessity the Portuguese became the masters of the sea. They began to acquire a great knowledge of the sea and advanced in navigation, sailing, and map-making. They also founded an academy of navigation in Lisbon. In the early 1400's, the Portuguese began exploratory voyages. The Portuguese wanted to establish themselves in large-scale international trade. The four things most desired by the people of Europe were spices, sugar, precious metals, and...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   11/19/1999

Category:   American History

Length:   10 pages (2,196 words)

Views:   1281

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