South Sea Company founded

(469 words)

Historical Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : .

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 …

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Clark, Robert. "South Sea Company founded". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 October 2008
[, accessed 07 October 2015.]