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Mercantilism

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Introduction

Mercantilism is a theory that advocates for the control of the foreign trade by a nation to safeguard both the national economic interests and the security (Hughes, 2003). This paper will briefly analyze the article titled Slavery on Chesapeake Iron Plantations before the American Revolution written by Ronald Lewis. Chesapeake Bay is located on the Atlantic coast of America, covering an area that consists from the District of Columbia and several parts of five other states. Chesapeake Bay forms the largest estuary in the country. The bay is more than 200 miles long, and it is served by more than 150 rivers. In the mid of the 18th century, the bay served as an important water transport corridor for the exports into Europe.

Discussion

In the mid of the 18th century, Chesapeake was one of the most important raw-iron producers in the southern states of America, with its production peak in 1783. The British colonizers required the raw-iron for their industries, and America as one of its colonies was an important source. The extensive water ways in Chesapeake linked to the Atlantic Ocean formed a ready water way transportation means of iron to the British market, therefore, making the region an important production center for this product (Lewis, 1974). This explains the fact why nearly all of Chesapeake iron-ore melting furnaces before the revolution were found near the bay or in the extensive network of surrounding rivers.

Slavery in Chesapeake

Most of the iron in Chesapeake was produced in Maryland State and was mainly for an export to the colonial master, Britain. The long distance from the source in America to the market in Britain required the low costs of such iron production for manufacturers to make profits. To keep the costs low, the slave labor formed the core of labor source, just like most of the southern states were doing. This also meant that British industries would continue getting iron raw materials at a more competitive price than their counterparts in Europe. Slaves were used in mining, harvesting and delivering timber for a charcoal production and working in the furnaces. Therefore, the development of iron manufacturing furnaces was a major contributing factor for the increased slavery in the region (Lewis, 1974). This continued till and even after the end of the American Civil War in 1865. This explains the fact why slavery was an important factor in the development of industry in the region.

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