There was plenty of trade during the Colonial period. But none of it was free. England, like all colonial powers at the time, maintained exclusive control over valuable goods like sugar, cotton and tobacco that the Colonies produced. On July 4, 1789, the United States passed its first significant piece of legislation: a tariff. More precisely, a long list of tariffs around 5% and higher. Just sticking to the letter C, goods on the list included candles, cheese, coal and coffee.