Imports into British North America

American colonists received most of their imported goods from Great Britain and Ireland. At the end of the colonial period the value of products imported from the British Isles was between two and four million pounds sterling per year. Imports from southern Europe were valued at only £77,000 per year (under the Navigation Acts, salt and wine were the only goods that could be legally carried directly from southern Europe into the colonies). Products from the West Indies — sugar, rum, molasses, coffee, cotton, salt, and wine — averaged £788,000 annually.

Cloth, both linen and woolen, was by far the most important kind of product supplied from Britain and Ireland, followed by metals wrought or cast into nails, tools, cookware, and pewter cooking and dining utensils. Other imports included hats, shoes, glass and earthenware, china, gunpowder and shot, paper, window glass, leather goods, cordage, salt, coal, refined sugar, drugs, and furniture. British merchants also re-exported some commodities made in Europe (such as German and Russian linens), and from the Far East (tea and spices).

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