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The old colonial system envisaged two types of colonial possessions, a trading Empire based on the production of staple tropical products, and a colonial Empire which gave opportunity for the expansion of the race in new and unoccupied countries. Of the two the former was considered by far the more important. This Empire consisted in the seventeenth century of trading posts in India, of trading posts in West Africa and of some of the West Indian islands. In the colonial Empire resting on racial expansion, Virginia, which grew tobacco, was one of the regions most favoured in British eyes. Spices, sugar, tobacco and cotton, these were the great staples that England was anxious to secure. West Africa was valuable as furnishing the labour which grew the sugar and tobacco. The most favoured spots of the whole Colonial system were, however, the West Indian Islands ; they not merely supplied the goods England needed, but they did not compete or attempt t o compete with English products as did New England ; they were big customers for her manufactures and gave great employment to shipping.