Early scholarship has mostly focused on the question of the definition of mercantilist thought. and have set most of the terms of debate about this topic. The former argued for seeing mercantilism as a coherent body of ideas, whereas the latter insisted that mercantilist thought lacked consistency and interpreted mercantilist policies as ad hoc and pragmatic. Both Heckscher and Coleman, however, rejoined in a liberal interpretation of mercantilist weaknesses, following in the criticism of mercantilism by Adam Smith in his (see ). The middle position between Heckscher and Coleman was reached by , which identifies changes in mercantile influence on policymaking in the 17th and 18th centuries, but nonetheless credits economic policy with some degree of continuity throughout this period. More recently, insisted on describing mercantilism as a thoughtful and rational system of economic principles for those who designed them. nuanced Heckscher’s labeling of the entire period as mercantilist by pointing out the growing support for free trade. represents a departure from this focus on intellectual history by taking into account the political economy of mercantilism.
The British had an empire to run. The way that they kept their economy healthy was through a system called mercantilism. Mercantilism was a popular economic philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries. In this system, the British colonies were moneymakers for the mother country. The British put restrictions on how their colonies spent their money so that they could control their economies. They put limits on what goods the colonies could produce, whose ships they could use, and most importantly, with whom they could trade. The British even put taxes called duties on imported goods to discourage this practice. This pushed the colonists to buy only British goods, instead of goods from other European countries.
Louis Kelso’s Vision – Everyone a Capitalist