Close your eyes and imagine yourself strolling through a British colony better known as the ‘NEW WORLD”. Imagine selling your labor in exchange for this new world. You see mountains, trees, rivers and poor rocky soil that seems difficult to farm. You see yourself being centered around fishing. But you are no good at that. You start to regret the exchange for the new world. Then Plantations begin producing “cash crops”. You join in and begin to plant tobacco, cotton, and rice. You work so hard to create your own world inside of this new world only to be replaced and looked over by slaves. Saying this to say that British colonies were solely built on the foundation of labor.
Let’s focus on Virginia. Jamestown in particular. Before the people learned to actually be Indentured servants and perform actual labor acts Jamestown was a mess. It was dangerous dirty and basically a death trap for England colonies. Almost all the citizens lacked sanitation skills. Maybe because it was full of men. So why not false advertise for women to go over there. Mainly single women. Not only did sending women not help but it created a food shortage. Being surrounded by undrinkable water didn’t help the case either. With no labor there was nothing being produced, and with nothing being produced there was no money being made. So Jamestown was a banded. Until John Smith arrived.
Around 1609 the second charter was created. John Smith implemented military order within the law. It kept the colony alive and growing. Economic growth was stable but not quite enough to make the pockets start yelling with money. Not until Walter Riley advertised tobacco. Tobacco wasn’t new to the colony but Walters came from the islands and was much better than Virginian’s. As word got out about the tobacco the demand grew. More demand equaled more labor. So more workers came. Virginia began making so much money that they became the capital.
It’s worth pointing out that Britain outlawed slavery only after it stopped making them lots of money due to the crash in sugar prices. Overpriced sugar was the only way for slavery to show a profit because slavery is a grossly inefficient of doing things that requires large profit margins in order to support it. Likely the British would have kept slavery or at least exempted the colonies had they still a big income flowing from it. If not for the invention of the cotton gin which once again made it marginally profitable slavery probably would have gone away in the USA at the same time as it did in England. Notably cotton prices were also starting to drop (due to increased Egyptian and Indian cotton production) at the time of the USA ‘Civil War’ making it likely slavery would have died at about the same time no matter what as evidenced by the Confederate ‘government’ banning import of further slaves even before that war started.
Learning about how labor shaped colonies back then only goes to show just how much labor has shaped American now. Even if it was taught to us in US history now we would still be learning it because we are living in it. Back then labor was summed up into “economic growth”. That was the battle then. Today its seen as “minimum wage”. That is our battle. It is the same but different names. Minimum wage just means it’s illegal for you to work unless your worth whatever the minimum wage is. Labor is just a service you buy, and raising the price of labor means people find ways to make due with less of it. Demand doesn’t change one bit, even if you’re unable to be worth minimum wage is. What you have here is a subsidy for low-value workers. You always get more of what you subsidize, so why would people invest in their skills if the end result is making the same amount as before? In either scenario, economic productivity is reduced either due to unemployment or low skill.
The political push for increasing minimum wage is mostly through unions, who often get paid a certain Multiple of minimum wage. Even if this doesn’t convince you minimum wage is a bad idea, a federal minimum wage is as the cost of living is do different in different…not just states…but cities! It should be a local thing. A $15 minimum wage in New York City would be unnoticeable as few there would work for less than that anyway, but in Rome NY the effect on the economy would be devastating. Wage discrimination is BS these days; if I could save 23% for the same level of productivity by only hiring women, then I’d only hire women and put my competitors out of business. But then, they’d try to do the same, raising demand, and therefore price, of hiring women. That’s exactly what we have today; it’s whacko conspiracy-theory territory to think otherwise. It’s the same battle that we’ve had years ago and will have years from now.
Another note that while the victory in the seven years’ war was a major cause for the colonial rebellion you don’t mention the anti-piracy and anti-smuggling patrols that the British fleet was thereafter turned to. Colonists couldn’t reliably get decent manufactured goods from England at a reasonable price, were not allowed to manufacture their own goods, were forced to do business exclusively with the English, couldn’t sue English companies in English courts when they failed to deliver, and couldn’t compel English companies to appear before colonial courts. This made smuggling a lifeline for basic necessities like plows and shovels and when that was put under pressure a legal separation of the two bodies was inevitable. Other contributing factors often overlooked include all those rebellious Scots exiled to the colonies in the 1760s and fundamental religious differences held by the many dissenter colonists.
I say all this to say that these colonies were built, planted and grown by the hands of indentured servants, slaves and even regular hardworking citizens. The colonies were a business. It started from the bottom and ultimately reached the top. The colonies were ready to shift the truth to get more labor and to build their empires today. It shows true dedication. It is something that is still so prevalent to today. These are all traits we still use as a country. Labor tactics, trade tactics, advertising tactics. Everyone wants to be #1 and are willing to be in trillions of dollars in debt to get there.
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