The East India Trading Company, otherwise referred to as the East India Company or abbreviated as EITC, was a British joint-stock company and megacorporation formed for pursuing and monopolizing trade with the East Indies and the Caribbean. The East India Company traded mainly in cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpeter, tea and opium. The Company was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I on December 31, 1600. Shares of the Company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats. The government owned no shares and had only indirect control. The Company eventually came to rule large areas of India with its own private armies, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions.
The English East India Trading Company was established by British explorers who discovered the exotic riches of the East Indies, particularly India, during their initial voyages to the region. With trading voyages sponsored by English merchants hoping to profit from gold, silver, ivory, silk and spices, the company grew in size and power. It began to expand into the Caribbean when the attention of the company's leaders turned to the area's rich plantations. This expansion was led by its Governor and Chairman, Lord Cutler Beckett. The company ultimately expanded so much that any threat posed to it was a threat to Great Britain itself.
Piracy was one of the biggest problems for the Company. In the late 1720s, several EITC ships were sent to join Admiral Lawrence Norrington's Royal Navy fleet and participate in his hunt for Edward Teague, Keeper of the Code and one of the most notorious pirates on the Seven Seas. Though Norrington managed to capture Teague for a brief time, his mission miserably failed.
The company was based in London, led by a single Governor and a Court of Directors. Through one of its employees, Cutler Beckett, it was known to have condoned the transport of slaves from Africa to the Caribbean. However, Jack Sparrow, captain of the Wicked Wench, refused to carry out this sinful task, and Beckett had his ship torched and Sparrow himself branded a pirate.
The Shadow Lord
In the early 1730s, Benedict Huntington, the Company's manager for Hong Kong, attempted to eradicate piracy in the East Indies, attacking the hideouts of Chinese pirates led by Mistress Ching and Sao Feng. When he failed, he used the havoc created on the Seven Seas by the Shadow Lord, to attack all Pirate Lords of the Brethren Court. In his quest, he followed Jack Sparrow, the Pirate Lord of the Caribbean, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Though he had some success, in the end, Huntington's quest was a failure.
In 1740, the Company sent a fleet of ships to the Bahamas to participate in one of the many conflicts in that area.
In the Caribbean
Meanwhile, Cutler Beckett remained a loyal member of the company, attaining the title of Lord and rising to the position of Governor. He relocated to Port Royal, with great ambitions for the company's future. He intended not only to eradicate piracy on the Seven Seas, but also to monopolize them completely by assuming control of Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman. He wielded more executive power than Governor Weatherby Swann, forcing him to cooperate by sending favorable reports of Beckett's actions back to England. During this time, the British government was careful to protect the Company's ships, and supplied marines and vessels of the British Royal Navy as guards and escorts in case of pirate attacks.
The company also tightened its control over maritime commerce in the Caribbean by imposing heavy fees and tariffs on other merchants and businessmen. This made it increasingly difficult to conduct business for those not affiliated with the company. This stranglehold on Caribbean shipping drove honest sailors and merchant captains like Captain Bellamy to make port in lawless places like Tortuga, beyond the company's reach.
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