Territory Worth Contesting
Until the mid-1700s, the colonies in North America yielded limited profits for Britain and France. However, that was changing, especially in the British colonies. The population was growing, the economy diversifying, and trade expanding. The potential was immense. America was producing more agricultural products and raw materials and the colonies were becoming a lucrative market for manufactured goods. Both Britain and France recognized that North America was territory worth contesting.
American prosperity depended on the growing value of its exports. By the 1770s, these included not only tobacco and furs, but also rum, wheat, fish, rice, indigo, iron, sugar, and naval stores. Besides seeking political freedom, the colonists wanted independence to control their own global trade.
In general, white American colonists in the late 1700s had a comparable standard of living to their British counterparts. English businessmen sought to profit from colonists through sale of manufactured goods and by controlling American trade with other countries, including India and China. Americans were eager consumers, and often fell into debt to British merchants.
Fabric, around 1770