In 1607 Britain established a settlement in Jamestown, Virginia. And within a few years many followed including, Bermuda and New England. The settlements established were used to grow useful goods such as cotton, sugar and tobacco. In the 1600s British society saw smoking as a form of wealth, the more you smoked the wealthier and of high status you were. Tobacco was literally as good as gold leading to the growth of the British Empire as the demand for tobacco grew. By 1617 £20,000 of tobacco were exported to Britain this was the first American business and was a major success. In 1686 alone British colonies shipped goods worth over £1 million to London. These were mainly tobacco and sugar. The money made from tobacco expanded British territory and gave the British people somewhere to migrate so they could make a living for themselves.
Tobacco helped America’s development in many ways, before the colonist began growing tobacco they tried many ways to make money including silk, lumber and glass making but had no financial success, it was John Rolfe's experiments with tobacco that developed the first profitable export. This lead to the beginning of America’s development and tobacco was soon to be a global business. Furthermore it was one of the goods that put America on the map, as the new land to trade from; its land could produce merchandise others couldn’t which gave Britain the upper hand in trade against its competitors.
The triangular trade operated between the 16th and 19th century and was a major driving force to the development of America and the British Empire. Goods were taken from Britain to West Africa and there exchanged for slaves. These were taken to the southern colonies of America and the West Indies, and sold. Part of the profit was then used to purchase sugar, tobacco and indigo, which was brought back to Britain for processing, consumption and re-export. Meaning there were profits for England at every point in the triangle. For centuries it proved slaves to work at plantations and dangerous jobs. The need for labour to grow the tobacco also led to an increase in enslaved Africans to the tobacco growing colonies in North America. This allowed a mass production of tobacco which would be sent back to Britain to sell off for profit. By the 1790s there were 480,000 enslaved people in British Caribbean colonies. All the enslaved people were forced to work for massive hours a day for very little pay and this benefited both America and Britain as they were getting maximum production for less pay. Tobacco production allowed America to become richer and stronger economically which eventually due to British taxation leads to the war of independence which was a major blow to the British Empire.
Another group to become wealthy from the tobacco trade were the merchants from Glasgow. Initially, London controlled the trade in tobacco exported from America, followed by other coastal towns such as Bristol, Liverpool, Lancaster and Whitehaven. However, after the Act of Union in 1707, between England and Scotland Scottish merchants, especially in Glasgow, began to invest heavily in the tobacco trade. They invested heavily on the tobacco industry and sent representatives to America to establish contact with plantation owners; they had successful trade with America until the war for independence in 1776. The introduction of the navigation act allowed Britain to receive more trade coming into Britain such as tobacco, it was taxed and check before entering Britain this allowed more money and development for the British economy.
Tobacco linked the British Empire and America’s development together as it helped develop both America and Britain. If it wasn’t for John Rolfe’s experiments in tobacco there wouldn’t be this multibillion pound industry in tobacco in Britain which is still around today. In addition it gave the British working men an opportunity to make a living for themselves so they could provide for their families as it opened up a lot of jobs on tobacco plantations. Also through expanding the slave trade more plantation owners started to buy slaves to do their labour as they would work for long hours and get paid less leading to the growth of America and Britain’s economy as there would be an increase of production in tobacco for the fraction of the cost. Britain was receiving more goods to sell and America was producing more goods to trade and by increasing Britain’s land it gave them status and soon became one of the strongest countries in Europe. Overall the main link between Tobacco and the British Empire and Americas development is that it was an industry with financial success it developed the British economy and gave them more territory which allowed Americans to have and better quality of life.