Colonial American Exports

At the end of the Seven Years War, the British considered the West Indies the most valuable commercial asset of their empire in North America. By the early 1770s the value of the sugar, rum, and molasses Barbados, Jamaica, and Leeward Island colonies produced (about £4,000,000 worth) was greater than the value of exports shipped from all the mainland colonies combined (just over £3,000,000). Among the mainland colonies, the Chesapeake led in value of exports, primarily tobacco, grain, iron, and lumber, totalled just over £1,000,000. The rice, indigo, deerskins, naval stores, and grain exported from the Lower South colonies came to about £600,000. New England and the Middle Colonies exported a wide range of products including iron, wheat, livestock, whale oil, fish, and rum, worth about £500,000 annually. Newfoundland, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, recently acquired from the French, exported much less; the value of fish and furs was only about £200,000.

Five commodities accounted for over 60 percent of the total value of the mainland colonies' exports: Tobacco, bread and flour, rice, dried fish, and indigo. Tobacco was by far the highest-valued due to the duties assessed on it on export from America and import into Britain.

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