By 1710 British finance was decisively dominated by the Bank of England and the East India Company, both of which were controlled by a small circle of Whig magnates. The Bank had £5m of nominal capital and such was its power that a 6% loan issued in February 1709 had attracted well over £2m in four hours, many would-be takers being turned away. For the time, this was an incredible sum of money. Robert Harley, the First Minister, therefore came up with a scheme to found The South Sea Company with the principal object of dealing with the problem of the government's increasingly large floating debt. (The fiscal aspect of the proposal provoked a forensic critique from Harley's former propagandist, Daniel Defoe, in his “An Essay on …
Clark, Robert. "South Sea Company founded". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 October 2008; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1025, accessed 19 April 2015.]