Economy, Business, And Labor

From the settlement of Jamestown to the American Revolution, colonial economic expansion played an important role in imperial and colonial development. The increasingly strong colonial economy laid the foundations for America's continued economic growth. The traditional framework for understanding the colonial economy comes from the so-called staples thesis, which views economic activity through the role of exported such staples as corn and tobacco. While the staples thesis explains much of the colonial role within Great Britain's imperial system, it fails in other important aspects.

One overlooked area concerns importation to the colonies. Over the course of the eighteenth century, the growing colonial population consumed more and more commodities and goods, making the colonies an important English market. A growing population also contributed to economic diversification.

Meanwhile, increasing discrepancies in levels of individuals' prosperity began to occur. Finally, the staples thesis generally maintains the traditional idea of the hardy yeoman farmer toiling within a subsistence economy, but it often ignores regional variations. Examining the colonies within a market economy context expands our understanding of the complexity of their economy.

Thus, while earlier studies of the colonial economy stressed issues of exportation and the colonies' role within an imperial economy, more recent research has focused on importation and consumption. Historians often examine the colonial economy within a local or regional context, and specialized studies of merchants, farmers, and laborers have all extended our knowledge of the subject. Other studies have included the nature of colonial agriculture and the agrarian origins of American capitalism.

Recently, scholars have clearly shown how economic development affected various colonial groups and the expansion, by the mid-eighteenth century, of growing divisions between rich and poor. Economy, Business, Finance, and Labor | NW News Network travelquaz

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