An essay "Overseas Trade, Slavery, War, And Taxation in the 18th Century Britain" reports that Britain’s supremacy as a world power was heightened by 1815, in which its economic and imperial power became unrivaled even that of France’s…
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The availability of revenue allowed for Britain to maintain naval dockyards and barracks, pay wages, and supply food and munitions, through Effective action by armies and fleets. The interconnectedness of overseas trade, slavery, war, and taxation shall be addressed by this paper. It is important to note however, that British colonialism had an influential role in the linkage among the four factors. Alongside a renewed pressure with the unprecedented demands of war with revolutionary and Napoleonic France between 1793 and 1815 was the fiscal-military state of eighteenth-century Britain, in which taxation reached 20 percent of the national income of England.3 Taxes were normally between 8 and 10 percent throughout the 18th century. Along with the growing influence of Britain was a desire to protect strategic goods, encourage colonial trade or preserve domestic employment from foreign competition, which became issues of national, security and imperial preference. It was likewise important for Britain to establish its political life and to provide links between civil society and the state, which became the subject of the complex process of brokerage with trade interests.4 However, success in Britain's point of view did not only mean the availability of an increased flow of revenue but warfare as well, whereby large amounts were spent in a short period of time which far exceeded income. It may be inferred that Britain's goal to pursue warfare specifically with its long-term rival France and the corresponding pursuit to sustain taxation were towards the attainment of a more heightened objective, which was colonialism. Such trail towards colonialism is seen in Britain's concentration on taxing policies witnessed in the fiscal system becoming more dependent on excise duties, with tariffs and stamp of wealth declining an importance.6 Land tax was considered the most important direct tax in this period, which was seen to rise in line with rents, profits, and salaries.7 The restoration of the land tax to the real level of the 1690s was seen to solve all fiscal problems as argued by a radical pressure group in 1860, the Financial Reform Association. A range of assessed taxes supplemented the land, aiming to tap the income of the rich by taxing signs of conspicuous wealth and display such as male servants, carriages, and pleasure horses. However, an increasing reliance on indirect taxes ensued when land and assessed taxes declined and these indirect taxes took the form of excise duties on a limited range of goods as well as duties on exports and imports. 8 At the time Britain relied on indirect taxes, there was an expansion of a more effective 'handle' on the economy for trade. Likewise, a means of extracting revenue from expanding sectors of the economy was offered through imports of raw materials such as cotton. This scenario shows the interconnectivity between trade and taxation, complementing one with the other in sustaining a mercantile economy. Warfare contributed to the rising power of Britain towards acquiring more territories for its expansion and objectives of colonialism.
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