Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This date in tea history ... (Dec. 31)

By Royal Charter, Queen Elizabeth I founded the John Company (also known as the East India Company, the English East India Company or the British East India Company) on this date in history, December 31 in the year 1600 (which was, by the way, also a Wednesday). This was an effort to challenge the Dutch-Portuguese monopoly of the East Indian spice trade. The spice trade had been a monopoly of Spain and Portugal until the English defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 provided the English the opportunity to crush the monopoly. The rest, as they say, is history.

Anyone researching this company would quickly come to learn that the East India Company of the 17th and 18th centuries was the most successful, powerful, and perhaps most ruthless multinational company in the world. At its height, it controlled the lives of more than 20% of the world's population.

This company used English law to legitimize unfair trade practices abroad and recruited a private army to overwhelm other colonial powers and loca
l forceses in India. The company was responsible for the devastating influx of Opium to China, which eventually led to the Boxer Rebellion. And it was the ships of the East India Company that carried the tea that was dumped during the infamous Boston Tea Party, which, of course, later led to the independence of our country. The United States flag was based on the design of the John Company's flag.

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