MoboReader> Literature > The American Nation: A History — Volume 1: European Background of American History, 1300-1600


The American Nation: A History — Volume 1: European Background of American History, 1300-1600 By Edward Potts Cheyney Characters: 33862

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


The priority of Portugal and Spain in distant adventure did not secure them from the competition of the other nations of Europe, whose awakening activity, ambition, and enterprise perceived clearly the advantages of the New World and of the new routes to the south and east. Almost within the first decade of the sixteenth century an Englishman cries out: "The Indies are discovered and vast treasures brought from thence every day. Let us, therefore, bend our endeavors thitherwards, and if the Spaniards or Portuguese suffer us not to join with them, there will be yet region enough for all to enjoy." [Footnote: Lord Herbert (1511), quoted in Macpherson, Annals of Commerce, II., 39.] Soon England, France, and the Netherlands were sending exploring and trading expeditions abroad, and somewhat later they all aimed at colonial empires comparable with that of Spain. These colonial settlements were chiefly made for commercial profit and depended closely on a new and peculiar type of commercial organization, the well-known chartered companies. It was these companies which established the greater number of American colonies, and the ideals, regulations, and administrative methods of corporate trading were interwoven into their political fabric.

Revolutions in commerce have been as frequent, as complete, and, in the long run, as influential as have been revolutions in political government. Europe in the fifteenth century had a clearly marked and well-established method of international commerce; yet before the sixteenth century was over a fundamentally different system grew up, which was destined not only to characterize trade during the next two hundred years, but, as has been said, to exercise a deep influence on the settlement and government of colonies in general and on the policy of their home governments.

A complete contrast exists between international trade in 1400 and 1600. The type of commerce characteristic of the earlier period was carried on by individual merchants; that belonging to the later period by joint-stock companies. Under the former, merchants depended on municipal support and encouragement; under the latter they acted under charters received from national governments. The individual merchants of the earlier period had only trading privileges; the organized companies of the later time had political powers also. In the fifteenth century the merchants from any one city or group of cities occupied a building, a quarter, or fondaco, in each of the foreign cities with which they traded; in the seventeenth they more usually possessed independent colonies or fortified establishments of their own on the coasts of foreign countries. In the earlier period trading operations were restricted to Europe; in the later they extended over the whole world.

The essential elements of the organization of trade at the period chosen for this description are its individual character, its restriction to well-marked European limits, and its foundation upon concessions obtained by town governments.

At the beginning of the fifteenth century there were five principal groups of trading cities, whose merchants carried on probably nine- tenths of the commerce of Europe. These groups were situated: (1) in northern Italy; (2) in southern France and Catalonia; (3) in southern Germany; (4) in northern France and Flanders; (5) in northern Germany. Two of them were in the south of Europe, and found their most considerable function in transmitting goods between the Levant and Europe; the Hanse towns of northern Germany, at the other extremity of Europe, carried the productions of the Baltic lands to the centre and south; the Flemish and south German groups, intermediate between the two, exchanged among themselves and transmitted goods from one part of Europe to another. There were of course, vast differences of organization among the trading towns. Venice and Cologne, Barcelona and Augsburg, Bruges and Lubeck were too far separated in distance, nationality, the nature of their trade, and the degree of their development to have the same institutions. And yet there were many similarities.

The city authorities obtained for their citizens the privileges of buying and selling within certain districts and under certain restrictions, and very frequently of having their own warehouses, dwelling houses, and selling-places. Examples are to be found in the fondachi of Venice, Genoa, and other Italian, French, and Catalan cities, established in the Greek and Mohammedan districts of the eastern Mediterranean, on the basis of grants given by the rulers of those lands and cities. Just as characteristic examples can be found in western Europe; in London the "Steelyard" was a group of warehouses, offices, dwellings, and court-yards owned jointly by the towns of the Hanseatic League, and occupied by merchants from those towns who came to England to trade under the concessions granted them by the English government. [Footnote: Lappenberg, Geschichte des Hansischen Stahlhofes zu London.] The south Germans had their fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice, and the north Germans their "St. Peter's Yard" in Novgorod. The Venetian merchants trading to the city of Bruges usually met for mercantile purposes in the house of a Flemish family named Van de Burse, a name which is said to have given the word "bourse" to the languages of modern Europe. [Footnote: Mayr, in Helmolt, History of the World, VII., 81.]

The union among the merchants of any one city or league was one for joint trading privileges only, not for corporate investment or syndicated business. Each merchant or firm traded separately and independently, simply using the warehouse and office facilities secured by the efforts of the home government, and enjoying the permission to trade, exemption from duties, and whatever other privileges might have been obtained for its merchants by the same power. The necessity for obtaining such concessions arose from the habit of looking at all international intercourse as to a certain degree abnormal, and of disliking and ill-treating foreigners. Hence the Germans in London, the Venetians in Alexandria, the Genoese in Constantinople, for instance, needed to have permission respectively from the English, the Mameluke, and the Greek governments to carry on their trade. Although they found it highly desirable for many reasons to hold a local settlement of their own in those cities, such a possession was not a necessary accompaniment of the individual and municipally regulated commerce of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. Where but a few traders made their way to any one market, and that only irregularly, they lodged with natives, sold their goods in the open market-place, organized no permanent establishment, and had no consulate. On the other hand, where trade was extensive and constant, the settlement was like a part of the home land located in the midst of a foreign population.

As the fifteenth century progressed many influences combined to bring about a change in this system. The most important one of these influences was the growth of centralized states in the north, centre, and west of Europe. As Russia, Denmark, Sweden, England, Burgundy, and France became strong, the self-governing cities within these countries necessarily became politically weak; and the trading arrangements they had made among themselves became insecure. Strong nationalities were impatient of the claims of privilege made by foreigners settled or habitually trading in their cities; the interests of their own international policy often indicated the desirability of either favoring or opposing bodies of merchants, which in the time of their weakness the governments had treated with exactly the opposite policy; finally, the desire of their own citizens for the advantages of their own foreign trade often commended itself to the rulers as an object of settled policy. [Footnote: Schanz, Englische Handelspolitik.] In other words, national interests and municipal interests were often opposed to one another.

Internal difficulties in many cities and internal dissensions in the leagues of cities helped to weaken the towns as guarantors of the trade of their citizens. As a result of these political influences, before the fifteenth century was over the distribution of commerce was much changed and municipal control was distinctly weakened. The Italian and the German cities became less active and wealthy, while London, Lisbon, Antwerp, and many other centres grew richer. Individual cities and even leagues of cities ceased to be able to negotiate with other municipalities or with potentates to obtain trading privileges for their citizens, since such matters were now provided for by commercial treaties formed by national governments. One of the main characteristics of earlier commerce, its dependence on city governments, thus passed away.

Then came the opening up of direct commerce by sea with the East Indies, the discovery of America, and the awakening of ambition, enterprise, and effort on the part of new nations to make still further explorations and to develop new lines of commerce. The old organization of commerce was profoundly altered when its centre of gravity was shifted westward to the Atlantic seaboard, and Europe got its Oriental products for the most part by an ocean route. Cities which had for ages had the advantage of a good situation were now unfavorably placed. Venice, Augsburg, Cologne, and a hundred other towns which had been on the main highways of trade were now on its byways. Many of these towns made strenuous, and in some cases and for a time successful, efforts to conform to the new conditions. [Footnote: Mayr, in Helmolt, History of the World, VII, 64-66.] Vigorous industry, trade, and commerce continued to exist in many of the old centres, and some of the most famous "merchant princes" of history, such as the Fuggers and the Medici, built up their fortunes in the old commercial cities in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Nevertheless, these were the exception rather than the rule, and such successes were due to financial rather than commercial operations. In a general sense the old commerce of Europe, so far as it followed its accustomed lines, suffered a grievous decline. More important than the decay of the old method was the growth of the new. A vast mass of new trade came into existence; spices and other Oriental products, now that they were imported by the Portuguese and afterwards by Spanish, Dutch, French, and English, by direct routes and by water carriage, were greatly cheapened in price, and thus made attainable by many more people and much more extensively consumed. The early explorers of America failed to find either the route to the East or the Eastern goods which they sought, but they found other articles for which a demand in Europe either already existed or was ultimately created. Sea-fish abounded on the northeastern coasts of America to a degree that partially made up their loss to the disappointed seekers for a northwest passage. Whale oil and whalebone were obtained in the same waters. Dye-woods, timber, and ship stores were found on the coasts farther south. Furs became one of the most valued and most permanent imports from America. Gradually, as habits in Europe changed, other products came to be of enormous production and value. Sugar stands in the first rank of these later products; tobacco, cocoa, and many others followed close upon it. As colonists from Europe became established in the New World they must be provided with European and Asiatic goods, and this gave additional material for commerce. Besides creating an increased commerce with the East and a new commerce with the West, the awakened spirit of enterprise and the new discoveries widened the radius of trade of each nation. Men learned to be bold, and the merchants of each European country carried their national commerce over all parts of Europe and far beyond its limits to the newly discovered lands. English, Dutch, French, and Danish merchants met in the ports of the White Sea and in those of the Mediterranean, and competed with one another for the commerce of the East and the New World. Trading to a distance was the chief commercial phenomenon of the sixteenth century, and was more influential than any other one factor in the transformation of commerce then in progress. Distant trading proved to have different requirements from anything that had gone before: it needed the political backing of some strong national government; it needed, or was considered to need, a monopoly of trade; and it needed the capital of many men.

These requirements were not felt in Portugal and Spain as they were in the other countries of Europe, because each of those countries had control of an extensive and lucrative field of commerce, and because in them government itself took the direction of all distant trading. The Portuguese monopoly of the trade with the coast of India and with the Spice Islands was practically complete. Through most of the sixteenth century her ships alone rounded the Cape of Good Hope; her only rivals in trade in the East were the Arabs, who had been there long before her, and their traffic was restricted to a continually diminishing field.

Until Portugal was united with Spain in 1580, and after that until Holland broke in on the Portuguese-Spanish monopoly of the East Indies in 1595, her control of Eastern commerce was as nearly perfect as could be wished. [Footnote: Cunningham, Western Civilization, II., 183-190.] Government regulation of this commerce extended almost to the entire exclusion of individual enterprise. The fleets which sailed to the East Indies were determined upon, fitted out, and officered by the government, just as those of Venice were. [Footnote: Saalfeld, Geschichte des Portugessche Kolonialwesens, 138, etc., quoted in Cunningham, II., 187.] The Portuguese annual fleet sent to the Indies counted sometimes as many as twenty vessels. In the one hundred and fifteen years between 1497 and 1612 eight hundred and six ships were sent from Portugal to India, [Footnote: Hunter, Hist. of British India, I., 165.] all equipped for the voyage and fitted out by the government with cannon and provided with armed forces.

The management of the fleet was in the hands of the government office known as the Casa da India. The merchants who shipped goods in these vessels and brought cargoes home in them were, it is true, independent traders, carrying on their business as a matter of private enterprise;[Footnote: Cunningham, Western Civilization, II., 187.] but they were subject to government regulations at every turn and supported by government at every step. At first foreign merchants were admitted to the Eastern trade under these conditions, but subsequently it was restricted to Portuguese, and ultimately became a government monopoly. Under this system Lisbon became one of the greatest commercial cities of the world. Venetian, Florentine, German, Spanish, French, Dutch, and Hanse merchants took up their residence in Lisbon, purchased East Indian goods from the merchants who imported them, and dealt in other imports and exports resulting from this activity of trade.[Footnote: Mayr, in Helmolt, History of the World, VII., 70.] In Spain the government regulation of commerce was scarcely less close. All goods which were sent from Spain to America must be shipped from the one port of Seville, and they must be landed at either one or other of two American ports-Vera Cruz, in Mexico, or Portobello, on the Isthmus of Panama. Two fleets were sent from Seville each year, one for each of these destinations. All arrangements for these fleets, all licenses for those who shipped goods in them, and all jurisdiction over offences committed upon them were in the hands of the government establishment of the Casa de Contractacion at Seville. [Footnote: Veitia Linage, Spanish Rule of Trade to the West Indies, book I., chap. iii.] No intruders were allowed in the Spanish colonies; the only persons who could take part in the trade were merchants of Seville, native or foreign, who were specially licensed by the government. Monopoly as well as government support was thus secured to the distant traders between Spain and her colonies in the West and in the East Indies.

For two hundred years this system of government fleets in Portugal and Spain was kept almost intact. Since the government provided merchants with military defence and economic regulation, since it minimized competition among them and guaranteed to them a monopoly of commerce in the regions with which they traded, there was small need of organization or of a union of forces among them. Consequently commercial companies are almost unknown in Portuguese and Spanish history. [Footnote: M

oses, Spanish Rule in America, 166-171.] In Spain and Portugal government control of trade was at a maximum. In the other countries of Europe, notwithstanding occasional plans for such control, as in the Netherlands in 1608, [Footnote: Jameson, Usselinx,43.] the part which government took in commercial matters was much less, the part taken by private merchants was far greater. In fact, many of the earliest trading ventures were of an almost purely individual character. The patent given by Henry VII. to the Cabots in 1497, similar letters granted in 1502 to certain merchants of Bristol, [Footnote: Rymer, Faidera (2d ed.), XIII., 37.] a grant to Robert Thorne in 1527, the long series of authorized expeditions from 1575 to 1632 in search of the northwest passage, the charters given to Humphrey Gilbert in 1578 and to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, and many other patents made out in the sixteenth century to prospective colony builders, all were granted to individuals or to groups of loosely organized adventurers. [Footnote: Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 1-28.] In contrast both with government-controlled commerce and with purely private trading and enterprise, the chartered companies of England, Holland, France, Sweden, and Denmark arose. They were by no means self-controlled and independent companies; they were dependent on their governments for many rights and privileges and for constant support, protection, and subsidy. On the other hand, the governments expected them not only to develop a profitable trade but to furnish certain advantages to the nation, such as the creation of colonies, the increase of shipping, the provision of materials for use in the navy, the humiliation of political rivals, the preservation of a favorable balance of trade, and ultimately the payment of imposts and the loan of funds. They stood, therefore, midway between unregulated individual trading, in which the government took no especial interest, and that complete government organization and control of trade which has been described as characterizing the policy of Portugal and Spain.

Some fifty or sixty such companies, nearly contemporaneous, and on the same broad lines of organization, are recorded as having been chartered by the five governments mentioned above, a few in the second half of the sixteenth century, the great proportion within the seventeenth century. [Footnote: Some are enumerated in Cawston and Keane, Early English Chartered Companies, a still larger number in Bonnassieux, Les Grandes Compagmes du Commerce.] Of course, some of these companies were still-born, never having gone beyond the charter received from the government; some existed only for a few years; and some were simply reorganizations. The formation of these companies marks a distinct stage of commercial development, and furnishes a valuable clew to the foundation and early government of European colonies in America.

England, Holland, France, Sweden, and Denmark, as well as Scotland and Prussia, each had an "East India Company"; Holland, France, Sweden, and Denmark each had a" West India Company"; England, Holland, and France each had a "Levant" or "Turkey Company"; England and France each had an "African Company"; and a date might readily be found in the seventeenth century when all these were in existence at the same time. The following list of such companies shows their number and simultaneity. The list cannot claim to be exhaustive or absolutely accurate, for the history of many such organizations is extremely obscure, the dates of their foundations questionable, and some companies chartered at the time were, perhaps, not commercial in their nature.

1554. (English) Russia or Muscovy Company.

1576. (English) Cathay Company (first).

1579. (English) Baltic or Eastland Company.

1581. (English) Turkey or Levant Company.

1585. (English) Morocco or Barbary Company.

1588. (English) African Company (first).

1594. (Dutch) Company for Distant Lands.

1596. (Dutch) Greenland Company.

1597-1599. (Dutch) East India Companies (early).

1598-1599. (French) Canadian Companies (early).

1600. (English) East India Company.

1602. (Dutch) East India Company.

1602. (French) Company of New France.

1604. (French) North African Company (first).

1604. (French) East India Company (first).

1606. (English) London and Plymouth Companies.

1609. (English) Guiana Company.

1610. (English) Newfoundland Company. 1611. (French) East India Company (second).

1612. (English) Bermuda Company.

1614. (Dutch) Company of the North, or Greenland Company.

1615. (French) East India Company (third).

1616. (Danish) East India Company (first).

1618. (English) African Company (second).

1619. (Danish) Iceland Company (first).

1620. (English) New England Company.

1620. (French) Montmorency Company.

1621. (Dutch) West India Company.

1624. (Swedish) Company for Asia, Africa, America, and Magellania.

1626. (French) Company of Senegal (first).

1626. (French) Company of Morbihan (first).

1626. (French) Company of Saint Christopher (first).

1626. (Swedish) South Sea Company.

1626. (Swedish) East India Company.

1628. (French) Company of One Hundred Associates of New France.

1628. (French) North African Company (second).

1629. (English) Company of Massachusetts Bay.

1629. (Dutch) Levant Company (first).

1631. (English) African Company (third).

1633. (French) West Africa Company (first)

1634. (Dutch) Surinam Company.

1634. (Danish) East India Company (second).

1635. (English) China or Cathay Company.

1635. (French) Company of West India Islands.

1640. (French) Company of East Africa.

1643. (French) Company of North Cape of South America.

1644. (French) Company of St. Jean de Luz.

1644. (French) Baltic Company.

1647. (Danish) Iceland Company (second).

1650. (Dutch) Levant Company (second).

1651. (French) Cayenne Company.

1655. (French) West Africa Company (second).

1660. (French) China Company.

1662. (English) African Company (fourth).

1664. (French) East India Company (last).

1664. (French) West India Company (last).

1664. (English) Canary Company.

1669. (French) Northern Company (last).

1670. (French) Levant Company.

1670. (English) Hudson Bay Company.

1671. (Danish) West India Company.

1671. (French) Bordeaux-Canada Company.

1672. (English) African Company (last).

1673. (French) Senegal Company (last).

1683. (French) Acadia Company.

1684. (French) Louisiana Company.

1684. (French) Guinea Company.

1686. (Danish) East India Company (last).

1697. (French) China Company (last).

1698. (French) Santo Domingo Company.

When the English commercial companies were to be chartered, it was not necessary to invent an entirely new type of organization. A model already existed ready to hand in the Society of Merchants Adventurers, of which the origin goes back certainly to the fifteenth century, perhaps still earlier. [Footnote: Lingelbach, Brief Hist. of the Merchant Adventurers, xxi.-xxv.] The sphere of trade of this body of exporting merchants extended along the coasts of France, the Netherlands, and Germany, opposite England, and some distance into the interior. [Footnote: Ibid,, xxvi.] It is true that the Merchants Adventurers had many mediaeval features which assimilated them more to the old merchant and craft guilds than to the more modern type of chartered commercial companies which were about to come into existence. They had, like the craft guilds, a system of apprenticeship and different degrees of advancement in their membership. [Footnote: Lingelbach, Internal Organization of the Merchant Adventurers, 8-18.]

The members were all controlled by a "stint," according to which an apprentice in the last year of his term might ship one hundred pieces of cloth in the year; while a full freeman in the society could ship from four hundred to one thousand pieces a year, according to the length of time he had been a member. [Footnote: Lingelbach, Laws and Ordinances of the Merchant Adventurers, 67-74.] They were under strict regulations against forestalling and undue competition. They could display and sell their cloth only upon Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and "No person shall stand watchinge at the corners or ends of streetes, or at other mens' Packhouses or at the house or place where anie clothe merchant or draper ys lodged, nor seeinge anie such in the street shall run or follow after hym with Intent to Entyce or lead hym to his packhouse, upon pain of fyve pounds ster." [Footnote: Lingelbach, Laws and Ordinances of the Merchant Adventurers, 89, 91.]

In many respects, on the other hand, the Merchants Adventurers were quite similar to the later chartered companies, whose period of existence their own overlapped. In fact, considering the early date of their origin, the tardy development of English economic life, and the obstacles to trading in a foreign country even so near as the continental seaboard, the conditions which confronted them were much the same as those which the later companies had to meet, and they met them in much the same way. They obtained a charter of incorporation from the king; they possessed a monopoly of trade in a certain territory, as against other men of their own nation; they had a common treasury for joint expenses; and they acted as, and were even called, "the English nation," in the foreign country which was their abiding- place. [Footnote: Lingelbach, Internal Organization, 29-34; Laws and Ordinances, passim; and Charters of 1462 and 1564.] The Merchants Adventurers, therefore, might be looked upon as a late surviving mediaeval merchant guild, modified in form by the necessity of adapting itself to trading in a foreign country; or it might be considered as the earliest of the modern chartered commercial companies, still retaining in the seventeenth century some of its mediaeval features. Viewed in either aspect, the Merchants Adventurers were a living model for the organization of the new type of companies, and the powers and form of government of the latter show a similarity to the older company which is certainly not accidental.

The five or six English companies whose dates of foundation lie within the sixteenth century all yield in importance, interest, and later influence to the East India Company, which was destined to an almost imperial existence of two centuries and a half, and which may well serve as the representative of the English chartered companies. Its origin was closely connected with the international relations of the last decades of the sixteenth century.

The availability of the port of Lisbon as the western distributing centre for Eastern goods ceased in 1580, when Portugal became a part of the dominions of the king of Spain. As war already existed between Spain and the Netherlands, and was soon to break out between Spain and England, commerce was much disturbed; and after a few years of troubled intercourse that port was closed to the merchants of Holland and England. The union of the crowns of Spain and Portugal at this time had much the same effect on the supply of Eastern goods to these two Protestant seaboard states that the conquests of the Turks in the eastern Mediterranean had had for the Italian cities a century before.

It was not likely that the two most vigorous, free, and commercially enterprising states of Europe would allow themselves long to be excluded from the most attractive and lucrative trade in the world. After England, in her resistance to the Armada in 1588, applied the touchstone to the naval prestige of Spain and showed its hollowness, her merchants and mariners took heart and pressed directly to the East. In 1591 an English squadron of three ships, under Captains Raymond and Lancaster, with the queen's leave, sailed down the western coast of Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, followed the east coast to Zanzibar, and then passed across to Cape Comorin, Ceylon, and the Malay peninsula. They had mixed fortune, but one vessel returned home laden with pepper, obtained for the most part from the hold of a Portuguese prize. In 1595 the first direct Dutch voyage was made along much the same route. Other English and Dutch voyages followed; and in 1600 and 1602, respectively the English and Dutch East India companies were chartered. The following analysis of the charter of the former of these companies will give the main characteristics of the new commercial system: [Footnote: Charters Granted to the East India Company, 3-26,]

1. The charter, granted by Queen Elizabeth on December 31, 1600, was addressed by name to the earl of Cumberland and two hundred and fifteen knights and merchants, whom it created a corporation and a body politic under the name of "The Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading to the East Indies."

2. The territory to which they were given privileges of trade consisted of all continents and islands lying between the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan-that is to say, the east coast of Africa, the southern shore of Asia, the islands of the Indian Ocean, and the west coast of America; so long as they made no attempt to trade with any port at the time of the charter in the possession of any prince in league with Elizabeth, who should protest against such trade.

3. The corporation was for all time; but the privileges of trade under the charter were granted for fifteen years, with a promise, if they should seem profitable to the crown and the realm, to extend them for fifteen years more; and with a reservation, on the other hard, of the power to terminate them on two years' notice.

4. The powers of the company were those of an ordinary corporation and body politic. The members of the company and their employees possessed a complete monopoly of trade in the regions described, so far as English subjects were concerned, having, moreover, the right to grant licenses to non-members to trade within their limits.

5. They could buy land without limitation in amount, and as a matter of fact the company gained its first foothold in each of its stations in the East by buying a small piece of land from the native government.

6. The company could send out yearly "six good ships and six pinnaces with five hundred mariners, unless the royal navy goes forth," and these ships should not be seized even in times of special naval restraint, unless the queen's need was extreme and was announced to the company three months before the ships were impressed.

7. They had the right, in assemblies of the company held in any part of the queen's dominions or outside of them, to make all reasonable laws for their government not in opposition to the laws of England, and they could punish by fine and imprisonment all offenders against these laws. 8. Nothing is said in the original charter of the powers of offence and defence, alliance and military organization; but these were probably taken for granted, as they were so generally used by merchants and navigators at the time, and were, as a matter of fact, exercised without limitation by the company from its first voyage.

9. Especial privileges and exemptions were granted to the company by freeing its members from the payment of customs for the first four voyages, by giving them from six to twelve months' postponement of the payment of subsequent import duties, and by allowing them re-export of Indian goods free from customs duties. The laws against the export of bullion were also suspended in their favor to the extent of allowing them to send out on each voyage 30,000 pounds in coin.

10. The organization of this company was comparatively simple, consisting of a governor, deputy governor, and twenty-four members of a directing board, "to be called committees," [Footnote: The word "committee" at that time was used for a single person, as in the case of "trustee," "nominee," "employee," and similar terms] all to be elected annually in a general assembly or court of the company. The governor and committees must all take the oath of allegiance to the English sovereign.

The East India Company remained for some years a somewhat variable body, as each voyage was made on the basis of a separate investment, by different stockholders, and in varying amounts. But in 1609 the charter was renewed, and in 1612 a longer joint-stock investment fixed the membership more definitely. By this time the company had become, in fact, as permitted by its charter, a closely organized corporation, with well-understood and clearly defined rights and powers, and it was soon started on its career of trade, settlement, conquest, and domination. [Footnote: Hunter, "Hist of British India," I, 270-305.] A new type of commercial organization had become clearly dominant.

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top