East India Company

The East India Company, based in London, operated from 1600 to 1858, and was one of the richest and longest-lived trading companies in history. Its influence on British colonial policy indirectly influenced American history. At the time that the English colonies were becoming increasingly restive, the company was trying to strength its position in Canton, and as a result was purchasing greater and greater quantities of tea. The colonial response to the tea tax in 1767 resulted in a precipitous decline in consumption, from 900,000 pounds in 1769 to just 237,000 in 1772.

With warehouses overflowing with unsold tea, the company negotiated with Parliament for the right to sell tea directly to the colonies, which was granted in the Regulating Act of 1773. Instead of gaining a new market for the East India Company, the act produced more opposition. After the Revolution, the East India Company had little direct contact with America.

Far from disappearing from history, however, the East India Company gained greater control of the Indian subcontinent, which they managed as a virtual corporate colony until the Mutiny of 1857. At this point, the British decided that they needed to rule India directly and took over in 1858. The company was dissolved in 1874.

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Everyone knows the story of the Boston Tea Party—in which colonists stormed three British ships and dumped 92,000 pounds of tea into Boston Harbor. Bu...



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