The Role of Ideals in Shaping American History

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Every event that took place after the settlers arrived in America became part of its history. Ideals, as described by Dr. Margolies, History Professor at Virginia Wesleyan College, are "motivating, lofty goals". Some of these ideals, which shaped American history, included life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as protected by the Constitution. Self-interest, a second influential factor in American history, is shown through the gaining of benefits for oneself. Although it is debatable which of these two influential factors was more dominant in American history, it is possible that they coincide with one another, as revealed by many documented events. Self-interest can be seen in many of the writings throughout American history. The mercantile system, as exhibited by the British on the colonies, was an extremely hedonistic approach to gaining wealth for themselves. Mercantilism, as set forth by the Navigation Acts, imposed strict and extremely descriptive laws that would limit and exploit trade in the colonies, allowing Britain to control the wealth and profit of materials and goods in America. These acts were used to keep the colonies from trading with any other countries. As stated in the Navigation Act of 1660, "no goods or commodities whatsoever shall be imported into or exported out of any lands" belonging to his Majesty "in any other ship or ships...as do truly and without fraud belong only to the people of England or Ireland" (Restoration 98). Britain knew that by controlling the colonies in this manner it could take the raw materials out and sell the finished products back, and by doing so it would profit greatly. This mercantile system exemplifies the arrogance of the British while America was developing. This system would soon become a failure due to the people's demands to have representation along with taxation, and their desire to separate from

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