The Wealth of Nations and the Mercantilism Theory

In characteristic, the mercantile theory and the arguments of wealth of a nation are all based on the economies of countries. Their aim was to ensure maximum wealth upon use. However, differences are noted in the methods. Ideally, the objects of emphasis in the economies differ.

Wealth of nations

During the 17th and 18th century, wealth was measured by the use of precious metals that were available at that time. Contrary to that, Adam Smith’s publication on the wealth of a nation gave a differing opinion that hold water and has been experimentally. It forms the backbone of many economies in the world today. In the publication the idea of wealth is centered on the realm of production that is being conducted in that country ( 1).

Therefore, the more that a country produces in terms of products gives it wealth and not possession of exchangeable materials like gold, silver and other ornamental substances form the true basis of wealth. Other issues that include, the importance of free trade and the automation that exists in such markets are elaborated. Government interference in trade compromises the position and the market in general ( 3).

The postulations and content of this publication has been used in the set up and operations of over three quarters of the countries in the world.  Nonetheless, a recommendation of improving amount and quality of output is achievable with division of tasks into smaller units of work also referred to as division and specialization of labor.

Theory of Mercantilism

Mercantilism entailed the use of predetermined methods to balance trade within a country. In that case, the country had to keep watch of its import and export quantities to ensure that it exports more than it import for balance. In addition to that, the wealth was stored in form of the precious minerals like gold, silver and others (Hepburn 1).

In addition to that, the governments of the countries have a responsibility of controlling the flow of goods and services into the country. Apparently, the countries had to put in place stringent measures to make sure that the level of imports into the country remained below the export value. Hence or otherwise tariffs and heavy taxes were imposed on incoming goods (Lancaster, & Plumb 82).  Although the measure had advantages it limited competition that is necessary for the development of industries. For implementation, enforcements including the Navigation Act were put in place; it gave directive of the flow of goods to England and its colonies.

Interrelation between the two

In implementation, the two exploited the colonies. Colonies only produced raw materials which were sent to the empires. Mercantilism backed this idea of mobilizing resources centrally. As a result, colonies had stunted economic grow due to the planned and controlled flow of goods (Hepburn 2). England on the other had considered the restrictions as protection of the colonies. Despite this fact to some extent, the opportunities that were available were exploited by the producers of the finished goods.

 Examples of the navigation acts include one of the constitution of the crew of the ship, the passage of all goods bounded for the American colonies and the premium was the sugar act of 1764 that soared relationships with the American colonies and eventually leading to the great revolution that saw a break in the strong ties that England and the American colonies (Lancaster, & Plumb 81).


The 1754-1763 war

In the brink of stewardship, a war broke out in between 1754 to 1763 pioneered by the French. The colonies were divided and as a result the British government rallied support of the war. In response, some of the citizens were for while some were against. Regardless of the opposition some of the colonist fought hand in hand with the Britons. Interestingly, the Native Americans who were against the Britons fought alongside the French but lost in the end when their cities and were paralyzed (Lancaster, & Plumb 32).


When Britain engaged in the French and Indian wars, the Americans enjoyed freedom of operation from their monarch. The neglect was kind of an advantage to the colonies which optimized their activities for development (Lancaster, & Plumb 73). They developed immensely and formation of counties and towns formed roots at this particular time. It was so serious that there were town meetings for development and airing issues that were of importance either in development and or the welfare of the people of the town.

Pontiacs Rebellion

In the Ohio valley where the Native American tribes resided, a number of whites settled on their cultural land. This act was not received warmly. Hence, Pontiac rallied the tribes and together they raided the neighboring American and Briton settlers (Lancaster, & Plumb 79). Ultimately, the British troop neutralized them and ended the rebellion that had been created in that period.

Post war revenue generation

Things took a turn at the end of the war when the monarch was devising ways of getting sources of revenue to replenish the resources that they had lost in the war. Stringent measures that were in place were tolerable but not good for the citizens of the colonies. To be exact they, put up with regulations of mandatory accommodation of British troop on duty in the areas of residence (Quarter Act) as well as the abomination of local currencies in the colonies (Currency Act) created to ease trade and build their regions. Moreover, the acts which were put in place to control the commodities which were being imported by the colonies seemed very strict (Lancaster, & Plumb 80).

In addition to that, the British monarch slapped heavy taxes on the colonies (Sugar Act) to extract extra resources for recovery (Lancaster, & Plumb 82). Any violations that were made at that time led to prosecution with a British judge and no jury to make sure that the sentence that was administered was fare and deserving to the offender. Hence, the bitter hearts of the Americans led them to start questioning the administration that Britain gave them (“The American Revolution 1754 – 1787” 16).

Tension and disgust that led to war

Following that, a massacre by the British soldiers created tension and hatred for the bad governance that they administered (Lancaster, & Plumb 94). In other activities, the colonists reacted negatively to the unfavorable conditions that they had been subjected to. In that regard, examples include the Boston tea party, a boycott was staged. Finally, Glen Washington led a transformed militia into a series of victories against the Britons and lastly a declaration of independence by Thomas Jefferson led to the birth of the United States of America (“The American Revolution 1754 – 1787” 22).


The articles of confederation were taken to be the rule of the land, that is, the constitution of the United States of America form which the states gave authority to a congress which gave directive of the group of states (Callahan 6). That is to say that the states acted in one voice in matters of war, diplomatic negotiations as well as solving problem which may crop up. Under the articles, the confederation identified itself and further gave directive on how the states would relate for the good of all.

The compilation of the Articles of confederation

Campaign to embark on compiling of the article started in 1754 due to proposal by Benjamin Franklin to create collaboration between the states for development and power. On compilation the document was sent to the individual states for ratification. Some of the states saw the confederation as good and ratified the document without complications whatsoever. On the other hand some states which include Maryland were rigid and took time to accept the articles. However, Maryland which was the last did so in 1781 (Callahan 42).

Weaknesses of the articles

The weakness of the articles was known but regardless of this the states agreed to create a common umbrella for their well being. A realization of the true weakness was demonstrated by then inability of the government created to fund the army and fulfill the promise it had made to the soldiers regarding the pensions (Callahan 51).  Due to their hard work and subsequent victories in the wars, the government was to pay the soldiers half the life-times pay as pension. Key to identifying these loopholes was General Henry Knox, who eventually became the first secretary of war.

Further failure of the articles was evident in the treaty with Spain (1786), in which the United States risked losing right to the Mississippi river for a period of about thirty years (Callahan 56).  Nonetheless, taxation and commerce encountered problems in 1779 when there was need to pool up resources for the operations of the countries. George Washington, in trying to settle the revolutionary war debts that the states had accumulated wrote to them aiming to raise $45 million dollars. This would cater for the debts and operation that included paying of the soldiers. None of the states complied with the request (Callahan 66).

In the formulation of the confederation the states retained their modes and means of doing commerce. In the confederation the states were not under control of the congress on matters of either foreign or interstate trade. That is to say that, the confederation congress had no authority whatsoever to make any demand or institute regulations (Callahan 44).

As a nation the articles did not give the confederation congress enough power to rule the states politically and economically to gain substantial progress which they all needed. Alexander Hamilton realized that to get there the central government must be empowered and have the ability to make sound decisions and judgments on behalf of the states. A convention was created to look into the task (Callahan 46).  

Amendments to the articles of confederation

In 1786, Charles Pinckney made a proposal for amendments of the confederation but his attempt did not succeed due to failure by the congress to reach a consensus. Following a recommendation by James Madison, the proposal to send delegates from the states to deliberate on ways in which they can reduce the interstate conflicts to pave way for amendments, this occurred in Annapolis, Maryland and was named the Annapolis convention. In the convention, another meeting was scheduled to occur in Philadelphia and the purpose of the meeting was now to improve the articles of confederation. Though the delegates mandate was to make amendments they created a new constitution which addressed the problems in the articles (Callahan 70).

Creation of a new constitution

Following the creation of the new constitution the states were given time to ratify the constitution. The confederation congress remained in place to oversee the implementation of the new constitution on the national aspect as well as the states. By 1790, all the states had ratified the constitution and thus a centralized government emerged (Callahan 78).


Being the second war encounter between the United States of America and Britain, it occurred within the period of 1812 to 1815. A series of frustrations of the citizens of the United States in their quest to accumulate wealth through trade were shuttered by the attacks that were launched by British troops as well as the French onshore. Various methods had been used to avoid war but Britain did not cooperate (John 2).

Attacks on ships increase

James Madison succeeded Thomas Jefferson in 1808 and was uncomfortable with the way the rights of the citizens of his country had been undergoing. In his term, the trend of attacks of merchant ships on transit increased (Library of congress 9).

Non-violent trials to end the menace

The Embargo Act was enacted by congress during Jefferson’s term. It was disliked by the public arguing that it would take too much time before the Britons and French felt the repercussions. The None-intercourse act was enacted but proved to be of more harm since it blocked trade with Britain and France. At the time, Britain was the largest producer of goods and America was dependent of her. Producers who ferried goods lost a lot from the attacks and thus supported the idea (John 2).

A group of angry young republicans spearheaded the quest for war to gain the rights of the United States to engage in business as a free state without interference. Madison too felt the urge to respond and after some discussion and eventually voting about engaging in war. A decision was made to engage Britain in war. Although they did not have a massive win, the final agreement that was made led to a reduction the maritime extortion (John 4).

Reasons for the divided opinion

During the war between France and Britain, Britain was weary of the situation and the situation showed that the United States would benefit from the ongoing wars. To make sure that they benefited from the trade, the instituted measures through which they would discourage the trade. In the process, they seized the ships and took them to the shore and took the loot for their benefit (Library of congress 16)

In addition to that, the British troops attacked and impressed the people they found on the ship. For example, the Chesapeake-Leopard a ship of British origin fired and captured the crew on the ship from America, American frigate. They captured the 21 men aboard the ship and in the process captured 4 others who were suspected to be deserters. The deserters were seeking better pastures by working with the American merchants. The merchants encountered losses in the exercise (John 1).

Trade and economic issues were major reasons cited in the declaration of war against the British. Considering the actions that were being undertaken by the British troops in the high sea, it was impossible to actual realize any profits from trade outside the country. Economically speaking, goods that were produced in America were in many instances interceded before they got to their destinations (Library of congress 21).


Certainly, the pros and cons of the war led to the division. Apparently, the war would cause instability in the economic situation of America. Nonetheless, the continued suppression of the sea transport meant that America could not benefit from export.

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