Economic Transformations

Emily Zwolfer


31 October 2013


Economic Transformations


1607: Jamestown is Established

The first permanent settlement in the New World by the British was that of Jamestown, in Virginia.  This was the start of Britain using its colonies for its own economic gain. America was never meant to become a nation, just an advantage that sent Britain more products and earned them profit.


1612: Virginia is the Child of Tobacco

Europe was clamoring for tobacco, so Virginia planted it anywhere that it could.  Virginia’s prosperity came from the selling of tobacco.  This was a big deal because not long before this, the Virginians had been dying from hunger, but suddenly, due to the need of Europe, Virginia was flourishing.


1660s: Indentured Servants

Because tobacco was so popular, the production was enormous, but this depressed the prices.  In response, the Virginians planted more tobacco, which caused them to need labor for their extra acres.  They turned to indentured servants, whom proved to be incredibly prosperous.  By buying indentured servants, their masters were promised 50 acres of land, so some planters gained both labor and a vast estate.  These “lords” dominated the agriculture and commerce of the south.


1676: Bacon’s Rebellion:

The indentured servants eventually rebelled, which made the planters want less troublesome laborers, so they turned to Africa.  Merchants reaped enormous profits from the slave trade, because the amount of slaves imported made it possible to feed the appetite of the Europeans that wanted the New World products.  This was also a very large-scale human trading system.


1710: Slaves in Carolina

Rice had emerged as the main export crop in Carolina, but in order to prosper off of it, they had to buy West African slaves that were skilled in rice cultivation.  This led to Charlestown becoming the busiest seaport in the South.


1764: Sugar Act

This, among other acts, such as the Stamp Act, was imposed upon America by Britain, forcing them to pay a tax on foreign sugar and stamps.  Not only did this make the Americans feel that they had no freedom, but this was the start of Britain using America to pay their own war debts.




1765: Nonimportation Agreements

The Americans were unhappy with the British taxes, so the boycotting of British goods was adopted.  The Americans were then forced to rely on their own textiles, which began to open the door to industrialism and self-manufacturing, making them less reliant on other countries for goods.


1786: Shay’s Rebellion

The debt of America was piling up after the Revolutionary War, so taxes were put in place, which upset the backcountry farmers because they ended up losing their farms from foreclosures.  The rebellion led to the government giving in and passing “debtor-relief laws,” which certainly didn’t help with the nation’s debt.  If anything, it made it more unbearable.


1790: Hamilton as Treasury Secretary

Hamilton issued the idea of funding at par, which meant that the government would pay off its debt, plus the accumulated interest.  He also urged assumption of the amount of money the states owed the government to help with the debt.  Hamilton thought that the national debt was a “blessing,” and this threw America into a serious financial struggle.


1791: Bank of the United States

The bank printed the paper money that was urgently needed to provide a stable national currency.  It had a capital of $10 million and stock was thrown open to public sale. The bank was a great help to the commercial and financial centers because it put America mostly back on track after the issues of the states printing their own money.  The bank unified the nation’s economy.