French West India Company


French West India Company

In the history of French trade, the French West India Company (French: Compagnie des Indes occidentales) was a chartered company established in 1664. Their charter gave them the property and seignory of Canada, Acadia, the Antilles, Cayenne, and the terra firma of South America, from the Amazon to the Orinoco. They had an exclusive privilege for the commerce of those places, and also of Senegal and the coasts of Guinea, for forty years, only paying half the duties.

The stock of the company was so considerable, that in less than 6 months, 45 vessels were equipped; with which they took possession of all the places in their grant, and settled a commerce. Yet, the company only existed nine years. In 1674, the grant was revoked, and the various countries reunited to the King's dominions, as before; the King reimbursed the actions of the adventurers.

This revocation was owing partly to the poverty of the company, occasioned by its losses in the wars with England, which had necessitated it to borrow large sums; and even to alienate its exclusive privilege for the coasts of Guinea, but also to its having in good measure answered its end, which was to recover the commerce of the West Indies from the Dutch, who had taken it away from them. The French merchants being so accustomed to traffic to the Antilles, by permission of the company, were so attached to it, that it was not doubted they would support the commerce after the dissolution of the company.

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