how can i improve my alevel history essays?

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i am in yr13 and struggle tremendously with history. i have consistently got between 8-13/ 20 and i am struggling to increase my grade. below is an essay i though i did well in, but i only managed to get 13/20.

“To what extent is the adoption of free trade the key reason for the growth of Britain’s trade in
the years 1763-1914?”

Free trade is an economic policy where countries can trade freely without imposing tariffs or
taxes on imports, throughout the 18th century Britain saw a growth in trading as they went from
the mercantilist economic policy to free trade.* Whilst one must consider other factors such as
the purchase of the suez canal and the navigation acts did have a bearing on the british
economy it can clearly be seen that as a result of the free trade policy it majorly helped Britain
grow economically, resulting in economic prosperity.*

The move to free trade was the key reason Britain was able to grow economically during the
years 1763-1914. Mercantilism made Britain money by exploiting and suppressing colonies, this
meant Britain had a monopoly over ⅓ of the world's countries due to their vast empire, this made
Britain very wealthy and helped to jumpstart their wealth and economy in the late 1700’s/ early
1800’s. However the jump from mercantilism [where they were just maximising exports and
minimising imports] to free trade, was the turning point as it no longer meant britain was in
complete control of the global economy. The free trade policy finally allowed other countries to
compete with each other and sell to anyone, not just britain. This allowed competition between
countries was allowed to prosper, as more countries produced goods, the volume of trade
increased allowing for more trade to be managed, this increasingly helped the british economy as
inflation would help britain grow due to the competitiveness of the markets as there was more
traders who could help populate the market, as well as having a reduction in taxes and tariffs it
meant that there was a lower consumer price point, this helped increase their trade. In 1776
Adam Smith released his book ‘the wealth of nations’, which became one of the most influential
books of his time. Smith argued that the mercantilist system of tariffs prevented trade from
operating effectively as it put up barriers between traders and merchants as there would be less
merchant selling, so less people to buy from, this gave people less choice as to where to sell due
to the high tariffs as not everyone would want to get involved. When the free trade policy was
released, it gave Britain the advantage especially for agricultural goods, due to britain having
access to many resources, allowing them to sell at a lower price range, for example cotton was
just 7% of exports in the late 1700’s but exploded to 35% of exports in the 1800’s which was
equal to over 35 million pounds for the export of cotton, as once free trade was agreed britain's
access to raw materials and ease of exporting thus attracted merchants and made Britain a
popular country to buy from. However their low price points were only possible due to their prior
empire, where they were able to build up their wealth. An example of this is when the carribean
had to export cotton as opposed to making clothes, this was because the cost of raw cotton was
more than the finished product of what the british could make. By the end of the 1800’s the british
economy grew tremendously, as a result of the free trade policy being carried out.*
The use of the suex canal helped britain massively increase their economic growth as it was a
major asset to the british economy, as it allowed trade to be carried out on a major global
scale.The purchase of the suez canal shares by the british government, was risky due to the
political uncertainty in Egypt. However in 1854 ferdinand de lesseps obtained a concession from
the khedive of egypt to construct a canal in return for a 99 year lease. The construction* of the
canal took 10 years, mostly through the use of free labour. Once complete the commercial value
of the canal was finished they were unsure whether the construction was a positive business
decision due to the route only suitable for steamships, and not sailing ships. When it first opened
only 436,000 tons of goods went through, which was below the estimated target. Over time
however the canal became much more prosperous due to the fact that it allowed long-distance
trade routes to take place, this led to the growth of the british economy as it allowed the british to
trade in places such as India and Asia increasing their global reach, moreover it meant britain no
longer had to go round africa reducing the time it would take to go around the world, which
means made it safer, and allowed costs to be cut as they went on board for so long. In 1868 only

2% of 1.1 million tons of shipping entering from Britain was of asian heritage on steamships.
Compared with 60% of 7.5 million tones entering from Europe, North America and the
Mediterranean, this was due to the canal not being accessible for sail ships. Because of this the
popularity of steamships became popular due to the competition on Asian trade routes for the
first time, allowing for a growth in the market due to increased trading patterns. By 1874, the
steam tonnage from Asia increased to a whooping 178%, and ¾ of the tonnage passing through
the suez canal was British, this shows that over time a major reason for growth was due to the
purchase of the suez canal, through allowing britain to trade more. In 1875 a situation occurred
where the khedive was forced to pay off his debts, ultimately having to sell his british shares in
the canal, were this were to take place it would mean the british would of lost out on the use of
the suez canal, disrupting a major trade route, resulting in a major loss of british business.
However the british prime minister disraeli stepped in, and received a private loan from the
Rothschilds, he marketed the loan as a way to secure a ‘hold over’ the egyptians as well as a
‘highway to indian empire’, allowing for the acceptance of the loan, this meant britain was
allowed to use the suez canal for many more years, which would help britain massively with
economic growth.
The navigation acts was another policy which allowed for Britain to grow. The navigation acts
were a series of laws created based on mercantilism, as well as enforcing taxes and tariffs on
colonial countries in order for the british to allow imports and exports. The navigation acts helped
Britain to grow during the 1800’s.* After 1849 taxes and tariffs were heavily enforced this helped
to grow Britain economically as it meant that they had had a new way to get money, as
previously taxes and tariffs were hardly accounted for. Moreover, it allowed britain to remain in
control of colonial goods. The navigation acts were put in place in order to protect the british
interests and to govern trade, for example a major change was that colonial goods were only
allowed ro be transported on british ships, resulting in having to stop off unnecessarily, or having
to be transported to another location in order to keep control of goods, leaving colonial countries
unable to trade for themselves, although it finally allowed colonies to become import and export
markets, allowing them to join the world economy.* As a result it meant Britain was able to
remain in control of the transfer of goods. Due to this new continuous intake of money the
navigation acts gave to britain, it did help britain grow as the taxes and tariffs became a new way
for britain to earn money, however the navigation acts were definitely not the main reason for*
britain top grow, instead they can be seen as a minor source of income for the rich. Although the
navigation acts were a major factor in allowing colonies to become involved in the global market,
it was not the main reason for british growth.*
To conclude, it can therefore clearly be seen that due to the repeal of the navigation acts which
helped enforce taxes and tariffs, and the purchase of the suez canal which helped create a trade
route to india and africa, which helped britain to grow throughout the 18th century. It must be
considered that without the introduction of the free trade policy, Britain would not have been able
to make such a vast amount of trades throughout the world, which was a major reason for british
growth. This leads me to believe that free trade was the most important factor in regards to the
british economy.
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