Log in to access the full article.
The rapid rise of England’s colonial commerce in the late seventeenth century expanded the nation’s resource base, stimulated efficiency improvements across the economy, and was important for long-term growth. However, close examination of the interests at play in England’s Atlantic world does not support the Whiggish view that the Glorious Revolution played a benign role in this story. In the decades after the Restoration, the cases of the Royal African Company and the Spanish slave trade in Jamaica are used to show that the competition between Crown and Parliament for control of regulation constrained interest groups on either side in their efforts to capture the profits of empire. Stuart ‘tyranny’ was not able to damage growth and relatively competitive (and peaceful) conditions underpinned very rapid increases in colonial output and trade. The resolution of the rules of the Atlantic game in 1689 allowed a consolidated state better to manipulate and manage the imperial economy in its own interests. More secure rent-seeking enterprises and expensive wars damaged growth and European rivals began a process of catch-up. The Glorious Revolution was not sufficient to permanently halt economic development but it was sufficient to slow progress towards industrial revolution.