American Manufacturing

Throughout the colonial period, manufacturing never achieved an economic importance remotely approaching that of agriculture. The development of colonial manufacturing was limited by both economic and political factors. Labor and capital were scarce and expensive in America as compared to Britain and Europe, and the ease of obtaining land in the New World drew off much of the potential labor supply for industry into agriculture. The colonies were subject to British economic regulations, which often discouraged colonial manufacturers out of fear that they would compete with British manufacturers of the same goods. At the same times, colonists were unable to use tariffs to help their own industries, although individual colonies could and did grant monopolies and subsidies to encourage particular enterprises. What industry did emerge was usually small-scale and often based on household production.

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