In 1584, Richard Hakluyt the younger presented Queen Elizabeth with a program for England’s westward expansion. Conquest, tribute, and the rich mines that had been prominent in the successful Iberian empires played little part in Hakluyt’s vision. English settlers would harness American soils and climate to produce goods to satisfy all England’s imported wants, at once relieving the country of surplus population and rendering it independent of foreign suppliers. Furthermore, the settlers would require a vast array of manufactured goods from the mother country, compensating for flagging demand in European markets and creating employment for England’s idle poor. A sealed, self-contained commercial system would coordinate the getting and spending of producers and consumers throughout the Atlantic world and, through increases in trade and shipping, would raise England to unprecedented heights of wealth, health, and strength.1 Hakluyt’s scheme was too ambitious to be realized in simple and straightforward form.
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