Mercantilism

Every day we wear items like sneakers and eat foods like tomatoes or bananas that come from other countries. Likewise, Georgia products travel and are used around the world. Ships bring in containers loaded with goods from blue jeans to televisions. According to David Schaller of the Georgia Ports Authority, in one year these containers lined up end to end would stretch from Savannah to Los Angeles. The 4.5 million tons of cargo that enter the port is distributed to consumers via highways and railways. Savannah has been an international port city since the days of the Georgia colony. Rusty Fleetwood, an author and John Duncan of Armstrong State University discuss Georgia’s early exports (deerskins, indigo, and rice) and its imports (clothes, furniture, and ammunition) as necessary to the colony’s survival and growth. As a British colony, the policy of mercantilism was at work. Kirk Johnston, a reenactor with the Charles Town Landing State Park explains and a tea party illustrates how mercantilism made Great Britain a rich nation. England’s monopoly on trade eventually contributed to the start of the American Revolution. Today, Georgia companies make their own decisions about when and where to trade.

Teacher tip: Use this video to introduce basic economic concepts of international trade, import and export, monopoly, and mercantilism. Students can research the changing imports and exports that have come through the port of Savannah in the past three centuries.