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Timeline of Trade Policy: The Colonial Period, 1492-1815
This period marks the slow and imperfect emergence of the theory and practice of trade as something other than one more than a less lethal form of competition between warlike countries.

 

 

Major world events are shown in red.

Developments in trade policy and allied fields are shown in black.

Important events in U.S. law and policy are shown in
blue.

Landmarks in economic, legal, and political theory, as well as technological developments, are shown in green.

 

 

 

PAX BRITTANICA
SECOND THIRTY YEARS WAR
GATT PERIOD
WTO PERIOD

 

 

 

 

 


1492

Christopher Columbus makes the first of four voyages to the New World, landing in the Bahamas.

The reconquest of Spain from the Moors is complete.

Jews are expelled from Spain.

1494

The Treaty of Tordesillas divides Latin America into Spanish and Portugese spheres.

1515

Spanish sugar production begins in the Caribbean.

1518

Hernando Cortez begins the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire.

1521

Ferdinand Magellan discovers the Philippines.

1532

Francisco Pizarro begins the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire.

1542

Portugese are the first Europeans to visit Japan.

1570

Nagasaki is opened to foreign trade in Japan.

1571

Spanish city of Manila founded in the Philippines.

1588

Defeat of the Spanish Armada marks a key step towards the decline of Spain and the ascendancy of Great Britain.

1600

The Tokugawa era in Japan begins with the clan's victory in the Battle of Sekigahara.

1602

The Dutch East India Company is formed.

1607

Jamestown is founded in Virginia by the colonists of the London Company.

1609

Seven provinces are merged into the Dutch Republic.

Hugo Grotius publishes Mare Liberum (The Freedom of the Seas).

1613

A Dutch trading post is set up on lower Manhattan island.

1618

The Thirty Years War begins.

1619

The beginning of African slavery in Colonial America.

1621

The Dutch West India Company is formed.

1624

Spaniards are expelled from Japan.

1625

Hugo Grotius publishes De Jure Belli Ac Pacis (On the Law of War and Peace).

1636

Harvard College is founded.

1638

Portugese are expelled from Japan.

1641

Dutch traders in Japan are restricted to the port of Nagasaki.

1648

The Treaty of Westphalia ends the Thirty Years War, recognizes Dutch and Swiss independence, and marks a key point in the development of the system of state sovereignty.

1651

The (British) Act of Navigation permits only English or originating-country ships to carry goods into England.

Thomas Hobbes publishes the Leviathan.

1652

Trade disputes results in the First Anglo-Dutch War, which will last until 1654.

Capetown founded.

1654

After defeat in the First Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch agree to respect the Act of Navigation.

1660

The English Crown approves a Navigation Act requiring the exclusive use of English ships for trade in the English Colonies. The law also limits exports of tobacco and sugar and other commodities to England or its colonies.

1662

Charter of Connecticut granted by the king.

1663

The (British) Navigation Act requires that most imports to the colonies must be transported via England on English ships.

Grant of Carolina to the earl of Clarendon.

1664

The Second Anglo-Dutch War begins, and will last until 1667; the English take the New Netherlands colony.

Thomas Mun publishes England's Treasure by Forraign Trade.

1669

Isaac Newton invents calculus in his De Analysi per Aequationes Numero Terminorum Infinitas.

1672

The Third Anglo-Dutch War begins, and will last until 1674; the English capture much of the European banking business from the Dutch.

The Royal Africa Company is given a monopoly in the English slave trade.

1673

The (British) Navigation Act sets up the office of customs commissioner in the colonies to collect duties on goods that pass between plantations.

1681

Charter of Pennsylvania granted to William Penn.

1686

William Petty publishes Essay Concerning the Multiplication of Mankind.

1688

Anglo-Dutch hostilities subside when William of Orange ascends to the British throne.

1690

William Petty publishes Political Arithmetick.

1696

The (British) Navigation Act requires colonial trade to be done exclusively via English built ships. The Act also expands the powers of colonial custom commissioners, including rights of forcible entry, and requires the posting of bonds on certain goods.

1699

The (British) Wool Act limits wool production in Ireland and forbids the export of wool from the American colonies.

1705

Great Britain adopts the gold standard.

1717

Bernard de Mandeville publishes The Fable of the Bees; or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits.

1728

Daniel Defoe publishes Plan of the English Commerce.

1733

The (British) Molasses Act imposes heavy duties on molasses, rum, and sugar imported from non-British islands in the Caribbean.

Founding of Georgia, the last of the thirteen original colonies in North America.

John Kay's invention of the flying shuttle is the first in a series of innovations that will revolutionize the manufacture of textiles and presage the industrial revolution.

1750

The (British) Iron Act limits the growth of the iron industry in the American colonies.

1756

Start of the Seven Years War (known in North America as the French and Indian War). It will last until 1763, and lead to the expulsion of France from North America.

1758

Francois Quesnay publishes the Physiocratic Tableau Economique.

1764

The (British) Sugar Act increases the duties on imported sugar and other items such as textiles, coffee, wines, and indigo. It doubles the duties on foreign goods reshipped from England to the colonies, and forbids the import of foreign rum and French wines.

1765

The (British) Stamp Act imposes the first direct tax on the American colonies; all printed materials are taxed. The Sons of Liberty force British stamp agents to resign and stop many American merchants from ordering British trade goods. The Stamp Act Congress convenes in New York Cityand requests the repeal of the Stamp Act and the Acts of 1764.

1766

The (British) Stamp Act is repealed.

1767

The (British) Townshend Revenue Acts impose a new series of taxes on tcolonial imports such as paper, tea, glass, lead, and paints.

1770

The Townshend Acts are repealed. All duties on imports into the colonies are eliminated except for tea.

Turgot’s Lettres sur la liberté du commerce des grains demands the end to restrictions on trade in grain.

1773

The (British) Tea Act taxes tea arriving in the colonies. In the Boston Tea Party, colonists dump 342 containers of tea into the harbor.

1774

The (British) Coercive Acts, called Intolerable Acts by Americans, shut down all commercial shipping in Boston harbor until Massachusetts pays the taxes owed on the dumped tea.

1774

The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia.

1775

The War of American Independence begins.

1776

The (U.S.) Declaration of Independence is issued.

Adam Smith publishes An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

James Watt invents the steam engine, thus inaugurating the industrial revolution.

1777

The (U.S.) Continental Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation.

1778

American and French representatives sign a Treaty of Amity and Commerce and a Treaty of Alliance. France now officially recognizes the United States.

1781

American and French forces defeat the British at Yorktown, ending the U.S. War of Independence.

1783

The United States and Great Britain conclude the Paris Peace Treaty.

Human flight begins with the Montgolfier brothers' hot-air balloon.

1787

The "Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade" is set up in England.

The (U.S.) constitutional convention is held in Philadelphia.

Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison write the Federalist Papers.

1788

The U.S. Constitution takes effect.

1789

The French Revolution begins with the fall of the Bastille in Paris.

The U.S. Congress enacts the Tariff Act of 1789 (the first U.S. tariff).

The U.S. Congress enacts the Tonnage Act, levying a 50 cents per ton tax on foreign ships entering American ports, 30 cents per ton on American built but foreign owned ships, and 6 cents per ton on American ships.

Samuel Slater emigrates from England to the United States, bringing with him the memorized details of textiles machinery.

Jeremy Bentham publishes his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.

1791

Alexander Hamilton publishes the Report on Manufactures, providing a rebuttal to the argument in Smith's Wealth of Nations.

1792

The abolition of the French monarchy and the start of the wars of the French Revolution.

1793

The Reign of Terror begins in France.

Thomas Jefferson issues the "Report of the Secretary of State on the Privileges and Restrictions on the Commerce of the United States in Foreign Countries."

Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin.

1798

Thomas Malthus publishes his Essay on the Principle of Population.

1799

The Dutch East India company goes bankrupt.

1800

Eli Whitney introduces inter-changeable parts in muskets, thus setting the stage for mass production of manufactured goods.

1802

The first factory legislation is introduced in England.

1803

The territory of the United States expands vastly with the Louisiana Purchase.

1804

Napoleon I becomes Emperor of France.

Haiti declares independence from France, and slavery there is abolished.

1806

Napoleon’s Berlin Decree closes the continent to British trade.

1807

England and the United States prohibit their citizens from engaging in the international slave trade.

Great Britain responds to the Berlin Decree by closing trade with French ports to neutrals.

The United States begins a series of on-again, off-again trade sanctions against Great Britain and/or France that last until the outbreak of hostilities with Great Britain in 1812.

1810

Beginning of the independence movements in Central and South America.

1811

Introduction of tin cans as a means of storing food.

1812

Napoleon invades Russia and burns Moscow.

The War of 1812 begins between the United States and Great Britain, and will last until 1814.

1813

Mexico declares independence from Spain.

1814

The Allies capture Paris.

The Congress of Vienna begins, and will last until 1815; it restores the balance of power in Europe.

George Stephenson builds the first locomotive.

1815

Napoleon retakes power but is defeated at Waterloo.

The British Corn Laws are introduced, preventing grain imports.