Smuggling



Habsburg Spain regarded the Treaty of Tordesillas binding even on non-signatories, and thus any non-Iberian ships' crews in American waters as pirates. The Spanish colonies in Latin America were, by law, to exclusively trade with Spanish merchants. As the city of Lima had acquired a privilege which required all legitimate imports to Spanish Latin America to be offered at her market first - a privilege which made legal imports to most cities in Spanish South America exorbitantly expensive, over time legal imports from Spain came to a virtual standstill and smuggling, conducted by Dutch and English merchants, became big business.
When the Navigation Act (of 1651) was applied to English colonies in the Caribbean (Barbados, St. Kitts), the colonies were legally barred from trading with the Dutch. In reality, Royalist Barbados traded almost exclusively with the Dutch.
Mercantilist policies were only as much worth as they could be enforced, and enforcement in distant colonies was much more difficult than at home. But along the coasts of Europe, smuggling also was a part of economic reality. Among the popular goods to be smuggled were those upon which both high import tariffs and additional taxes were levied - alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea. The establishment of such a tax on tea triggered the Boston Tea Party and ultimately the American Revolution. On the other hand, on the shores of England large-scale tea-smuggling went on. The Danish and Swedish East India Companies sold almost their entire tea imports from China to England and Scotland - the Navigation Act barred them from doing so legally. Smuggled goods were referred to as CONTRABAND.






EXTERNAL
FILES
Smuggling, from hastings.uk.net
Smuggling, from Whitstable Scene
Bootleg Tea, from Tea Muse
The Swedish East India Company trading to China (1731-1813), from Gotheborg
The Swedish East India Company (1731-1813), Documents and People, from Göteborg University Library
DOCUMENTS
REFERENCE



This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 16th 2003, last revised on November 14th 2004

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