What Is Salutary Neglect?

"Salutary neglect" refers to the British policy of loose enforcement of commerce laws on the American colonists. This policy led to a feeling of independence from Great Britain that culminated in the American Revolutionary War.

During the first century of British colonialism in America, colonies were more or less free to do as they wished. Though Britain had policies regulating colonial commerce, such laws were enforced lightly, and the government rarely intruded too deeply into colonial affairs. After a brief period of more centralized control under James II's Dominion of New England, salutary neglect began again, lasting until 1763, just after the Seven Years' War. At that time, the British crown began imposing taxes. The colonists, unaccustomed to such control, began a series of defiant actions that ultimately resulted in the American Revolution.