The Colonial American Economy
The first permanent British settlement in what became the United States was established in 1607, nearly 170 years prior to the American declaration of independence. This chapter examines the economic development of the British North American colonies that became the United States. As it describes, abundant natural resources and scarce labor and capital contributed to the remarkable growth in the size of the colonial economy, and allowed the free white colonial population to enjoy a relatively high standard of living. There was not, however, much improvement over time in living standards. Patterns of factor abundance also played an important role in shaping colonial institutions, encouraging reliance on indentured and enslaved labor as well as the development of representative government. For most of the colonial era, the colonists happily accepted their relationship to Britain. After 1763, however, changes in British policies following the end of the Seven Years War created growing tensions with the colonists and ultimately led to the colonies to declare their independence.