How does tobacco link Britains empire and Americas development from 1600s onwards?

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Selina Ly

How does tobacco link Britain’s empire and America’s development from 1600s onwards?

The trade of tobacco was vital in the development of America and the British Empire throughout the 17th and 18th century.  It was a source of trade for both, and helped further the British Empire and lead to the independence of America.

During the early 1600s, Britain was still largely based on agricultural and production industries. Even though their agricultural industries were flourishing, their economy still wasn’t very strong due to the massive population. Moreover Britain wasn’t yet seen as a major country in Europe so they decided to send merchants out to America to establish a network of colonies to trade with. In 1606 the Virginia Company of London received a charter from King James I. It was a joint-stock company, which sold shares. All who purchased shares at a cost of £12 10s shared in the success or failure of the venture. The Virginia Company was formed both to bring profit to its shareholders and to establish an English colony in the ‘New World’, America. Early industries such as glass manufacture, pitch and tar production, beer and wine making took advantage of natural resources. However, the settlers could not devote as much time to trade as they were too busy trying to survive. The problems they faced were attacks by Native Americans, poor food and water supplies and arguments amongst the settlers.

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 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 ...

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