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A System of Social SciencePapers Relating to Adam Smith$
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Andrew Stewart Skinner

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198233343

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198233343.001.0001

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Mercantilist Policy: The American Colonies  

Mercantilist Policy: The American Colonies  

(p.209) 9 Mercantilist Policy: The American Colonies
A System of Social Science

Andrew Stewart Skinner

Oxford University Press

Adam Smith's interest in the American question goes back to his time in Glasgow as student and professor. Smith could hardly help notice that Glasgow's emergence as a major commercial centre was the result of the city's geographical position. This relationship of geography to commercial activity provided a classic modern example of the historical progression that is so dominant a feature of his treatment of the origins of ‘present establishments’ in Europe as developed in book III of the Wealth of Nations. Smith's real purpose in the Wealth of Nations was to produce a searching critique of the mercantilist policy with regard to America's colonies. With this end in view, he offered an examination of the thinking behind the regulating acts of trade and navigation before proceeding to explain why current policy must change, offering a rational solution to the problems that were in due course bound to be exposed as well as to those that were unfolding as he sat in London. Smith's preferred solution was union and the creation in effect of an Atlantic Economic Community.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, America, mercantilist policy, colonies, Atlantic Economic Community, Wealth of Nations, trade, navigation

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