Mississippi Company

In August 1717 Scottish businessman John Law acquired a controlling interest in the then derelict Mississippi Company and renamed it the Compagnie d’Occident (or Compagnie du Mississippi). Its initial goal was to trade and do buiness with the French colonies in North America, which included much of the Mississippi River drainage basin, and the French colony of Louisiana.

As he bought control of the company he was granted a 25-year monopoly by the French government on trade with the West Indies and North America. In 1719 the company acquired the Compagnie des Indes Orientales, the Compagnie de Chine, and other French trading companies and became the Compagnie des Indes (or Compagnie Perpétuelle des Indes). In 1720 it acquired the Banque Royale, which was founded by John Law as Banque Générale in 1716.

Law exaggerated the wealth of Louisiana with an effective marketing scheme, which led to wild speculation on the shares of the company in 1719. Shares rose from 500 to 15,000 livres, but by summer of 1720, there was a sudden decline in confidence, and the price was back to 500 livres in 1721. By the end of 1720 the Regent Philippe II of Orléans dismissed Law, who then fled from France.

 

 

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