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What was the salutary neglect?

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Salutary neglect was an undocumented, though long standing British policy of avoiding strict enforcement of parliamentary laws, meant to keep the American colonies obedient to Great Britain. Prime Minister Robert Walpole stated that "If no restrictions were placed on the colonies, they would flourish". This policy, which lasted from about 1607 to 1763, allowed the enforcement of trade relations laws to be lenient. Walpole did not believe in enforcing the Navigation Acts, established under Oliver Cromwell and Charles II and designed to force the colonists to trade only with England, Scotland and Ireland. Successive British governments ended this policy through acts such as the Stamp Act and Sugar Act, causing tensions within the colonies. Salutary neglect occurred in three time periods. From 1607-1696, England had no coherent imperial policy. From 1696-1763, England (and after 1707 Britain) tried to form a coherent policy (navigation acts), but did not enforce it. Lastly, from 1763- ... more
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