Why did Parliament pass the Navigation Acts?


Quick Answer

Parliament passed the Navigation Acts to stop other European powers from trespassing on British colonial territories. The acts affected colonial exportation of some goods and imposed high taxes on goods the British sent to the colonies.

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Full Answer

The Parliament Acts imposed shipping regulations on the exportation of goods. For example, England required exporters of goods from Asia, Africa and the colonies to use British ships. European exporters had to use British ships or vessels from their country of origin. Later, Parliament amended the acts to require all goods going into or leaving the colonies to travel in colonial ships.

The acts forced colonists to limit their trade of certain goods, such as tobacco, sugar, cotton and wool, to England or to an English plantation. England required the colonists to pay high taxes when shipping these items and later imposed similar taxes on goods that the colonies shipped to each other. Though passed in 1651, Parliament didn't enforce the Navigation Acts until 1764, after the French and Indian War had depleted its resources. The Acts alienated the colonies and indirectly led to the American Revolution.

The colonies fared well under certain provisions. For example, the acts prohibited farmers in England from growing tobacco and effectively negated the importation of Spanish tobacco by imposing high taxes on it. The acts also taxed Swedish iron, effectively keeping it out of England and making the colonies the only source of iron. The acts also required England to pay a premium for certain colonial goods.

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