BY THE KING: A PROCLAMATION CONCERNING TOBACCO
How and why did King Charles seek to regulate the tobacco industry?
By the King: A Proclamation Concerning Tobacco, London: Printed by Robert Barker et al., 1630, Special Collections, Broadside 1631 .E58 F, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (Transcription)
Because of its increasing value as a cash crop, King Charles sought to regulate the tobacco trade between England and the British colonies with this proclamation.
By the King: A Proclamation Concerning Tobacco is a proclamation issued by King Charles I on January 6, 1630 (1631 by the New Style Calendar). In this document, King Charles seeks to regulate the tobacco trade in three ways. First, he forbids England, Ireland, Wales, and the islands of Jersey and Guernsey from growing tobacco. Second, he declares that England would not import tobacco grown in the colonies of other European countries. Third, he establishes regulation of the quality of the tobacco imported into England from the American colonies. These regulations would allow King Charles to encourage the growth of tobacco in the British colonies, and to take financial advantage of taxes on goods imported to Britain. Although Charles's father, King James I, had published the pamphlet, A Counterblaste to Tobacco, in 1604, which criticized the use of tobacco, the document By the King: A Proclamation Concerning Tobacco illustrates that by 1630 tobacco had become a valuable import and King Charles was seeking to maximize its economic benefit.
• inordinate – exceeding reasonable limits, excessive.
• corrupted – to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions; to become tainted or rotten.
• regulate – to govern or direct according to rule; to bring under the control of law or constituted authority; to make regulations for or concerning.
• compel – to force or overpower.
• licentious – lacking legal or moral restraints.
• commodity – an economic good; a product of agriculture or mining; an article of commerce especially when delivered for shipment.
♦ Compare By the King: A Proclamation Concerning Tobacco, written in 1630 by King Charles I with the proclamation A Counterblaste to Tobacco issued 26 years earlier by King James I. List the important points in each document. How are they the same? How are they different? Write a paragraph about what had changed in the 26 years between these documents that led Charles to have a different attitude about tobacco than his father.
Research and Discussion Questions:
• How would you feel if you were a farmer, and King Charles told you that you could not grow the crop of your choice (tobacco)? What crops would you grow instead?
• By decreasing domestic and foreign competition, King Charles made growing tobacco in Virginia more profitable. What effect did this have on Virginia's economy and society?
• (High School) Does the United States government regulate what farmers in this country grow? How do they do that?
Menard, Russell R. “The Tobacco Industry in the Chesapeake Colonies, 1617–1730: An Interpretation.” In Research in Economic History: A Research Annual. Vol. 5. Edited by Paul Uselding, 109–177. Greenwich, Conn., 1980.