Beginning in 1660, England passed a series of laws called the Navigation Acts. These acts controlled all colonial trade. The first Navigation Act required that all ships carrying goods between England and America be English-built or owned. Certain articles, which included tobacco, sugar, indigo, and naval stores, could be sold only to England.
The Navigation Acts were later extended to include molasses and beaver skins and other furs. The English government intended that these laws reduce the growing strength of the colonies. Yet the Navigation Acts did not cause friction with the colonists because the acts were loosely enforced.
England decided to enforce the Navigation Acts after 1763. England's troubles at home were settled when a new king, George III, came to the throne. Since France had been pushed from the North American continent as a result of the French and Indian War, England could now pay more attention to the colonies. The English government had spent large sums of money in this war and, since the colonies had benefited from it, the English felt that the colonists should pay part of the cost.