The East India Company
Today, not even the most powerful firm can compare in terms of longevity and wide-ranging economic, political and cultural influence. At one time, a tenth of the British exchequer's revenue came from customs duties on the Company's imports. Its armed forces were bigger than those of most nation states. Without it there would have been no British Empire.
Influence on London
The Company also played a leading role in London's commercial, cultural and political life.
Its employees included tradesmen, manufacturers, shipbuilders, soldiers, seaman, dock labourers, warehousemen and clerks.
The 'East India' lobby was a powerful voice in London's business and political life. Events at the Company's headquarters in the City were always watched closely by a suspicious Parliament uneasy about its power and influence.
For centuries, the Company held a monopoly of trade with the east. Its sole trading rights were always a source of controversy and were eventually revoked by Parliament.
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