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Mercantilism is the idea that colonies existed for the benefit of the Mother Country. In other words, the American colonists could be compared to tenants. Another facet of mercantilism was the idea that the wealth of the world was fixed. The most important thing for Britain to do was keep its money and not trade with other countries to get necessary items. The colonists role was to provide many of these items to the British. This idea was the target of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations which was written in 1776. Smith's work had a profound effect on the newly formed American nation and its economic system.

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