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There are two contradictory myths that circulate regarding the Colonial era. One is that all finished goods came from England or Europe, and the other is that all colonists were self-sufficient.  There are elements of truth in each. For example, there was no real textile industry in the colonies. Most textiles used for clothing were imported. High-end fabrics of silk and cotton which were worn by the wealthy were always imported. At the same time, colonists were processing wool & flax and weaving it into cloth for household use (sheets, towels, &blankets). Only the very poorest sort wore clothing made of homespun.

No single family produced everything they needed, but within a community you might be able to find almost everything you needed.  One person might have hens but no cows, so she would trade eggs for milk while someone else might make extra candles and give them to the miller as payment for grinding her wheat into flour. The colonial economy existed as an extensive and complex system of trade and barter.

Start by discussing what impact you think the British mercantile policy had on standards of living during the 18th century.  Use specific examples from your reading and any other research you might have done.

Next, locate two students whose opinions on the effect of the British mercantile policy differed from yours and respond. Did their arguments change your opinion? Why or why not?

Compose your work using a word processor and save it, as a Plain Text or an .rtf, to your computer.  When you’re ready to make your initial posting, please click on the “Create Thread” button and copy/paste the text from your document into the message field.  Be sure to check your work and correct any spelling or grammatical errors before you post it.

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