The Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East-Indies
Today constitutes the anniversary of the founding, in 1600, of the company originally chartered as the “Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East-Indies,” which came to be known as the British East India Company and, at times, simply “the Honorable.” Technically it was a joint stock company rather than a corporation.
Originally formed to engage in spice trading, its affairs would ultimately be focused upon India even as it maintained outposts throughout the world. Its operations in India were in effect a private territory of the company where it would maintain a private army exceeding 250,000; at that time, the British Army comprised some 125,000. It was only after the 1856 rebellion that the British government assumed direct control of India.
The Company was dissolved in 1874. The Company-State, by Philip J. Stern, is an excellent review of its activities. HERE IS A LINK to the text of the original charter.
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