The purpose of the Navigational Acts of the English and French from 1650, were to eliminate ‘interlopers’ from trading with their respective colonies, and thus rid themselves of competition. The Dutch, having built an extensive trading relationship with the Caribbean colonies of both of these imperial powers, continued their business. In doing so, the mother countries in attempting to protect their economic interest in upholding these Acts, resorted to military tactics and force. Hence, it can be said that these Navigation Acts were in fact ‘acts of economic warfare on the Dutch.’
In seaborne commerce in seventeenth century Europe, the masters were the Dutch. This was so as trade was the source of revenue of their state. Elements accounting for this were; free capital, up-to-date business methods, and better ships that had better handling and were also cheaper. The colonial planters preferred business with the Dutch because of lower prices for European goods with longer credit, lower freight rates and a better understanding of proper storage of goods, thus, taking better care of their shipment. Amsterdam had become a great city from where Europe could be supplied with Caribbean products, and a lot of the profits from the colonies went into Dutch pockets.
“Both French and English islands from their beginning fell into the sphere of Dutch commercial activity. Only the Dutch possessed the necessary shipping to serve the needs of the area.” The first country to retaliate in opposition to the monopoly of the Dutch was England, whose aim was to replace Dutch commerce with that of the English, throughout her colonies. Oliver Cromwell, leader of England, failed in his attempts to forge ties, politically and economically, with the Dutch in his ‘shortcut to prosperity.’ Out of this came the Navigational Laws which led to the first Anglo-Dutch war. This is a war which the Dutch would lose.
In 1651, the Parliament took the extreme step of...