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Control by the British East India Company

In 1600, Queen Elizabeth I of England established the East India Company as a trading company whose purpose was to organize British merchants and increase English trade with India and Southeast Asia. Wealthy merchants and aristocrats owned shares in this company which brought them incredible wealth when the company was profitable. Other trading companies at the time included the Dutch East India Company, Danish East India Company, and the French East India Company. Each of these companies worked hard to establish trade relationships with cities in India and Southeast Asia that would benefit their own country and exclude others. Trading ships were equipped for months long voyage around the southern coast of Africa. They were also armored and armed so that they would be able to protect themselves from pirates and raiders. Occasionally, these company ships would attack the boats of other companies for their cargo or engage in fights over trade territory.
Over time the British East India Company was able to establish exclusive control over India and prevent boats from other trading companies from docking. The East India Company did this by concentrating their trade and security almost entirely with India leaving other areas of East and Southeast Asia to be controlled by other countries' companies. As the British East India Company gained more trade control over India, it also assumed military and administrative control. The company and its private army also governed over these areas establishing their own laws and order without the direct oversight of any government. At its height, the Company controlled more land than the British government and was able to institute laws in those areas that would benefit the Company and extract profit.
Throughout its history, Indian land had never been united the way it was then. Even today, what was then known as India includes the countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Before the East India Company took over, different groups controlled larger or smaller areas, never gaining control of the whole. In the 1700s India was composed of six warring kingdoms. As the East India Company sought to trade with Indians for textiles, tea, and spices; they were more than happy to align themselves with these different kingdoms and trade them superior European weaponry and goods. Each of the six Indian kingdoms found that it was necessary to trade with the Company or else they would be at a disadvantage when fighting against one of the other kingdoms.
Over time, the Company also convinced some local leaders to work with them (and those leaders were paid handsomely). Local leaders who did not publicly promote trade with the East India Company had to face their private police force. They were then easily replaced by other Indians. Many others were willing to take their place and work with the traders because this relationship would bring prestige and wealth to their family. By 1850 the East India Company had control over virtually all of India and its 200 million people. They maintained this control with an army of 200,000 Indian Sepoy who were commanded by 40,000 British officers (5000 Indians to every 1 British person).
Those who worked with the company soon became fabulously wealthy, especially when compared to the Indian peasants who worked the land. Tax rates were set high and the peasants were required to pay regardless of how well their crops had done. Local leaders collected these taxes and enforced the laws. For their service they were well paid, but any of them who spoke out against the company was stripped of his title and position and was immediately replaced. Through this system the British East India Company became the wealthiest corporation in the world and made England what it is today. The Company’s focus on profits came at an expense to the people. For example, crop failures in 1769 were followed by years of famine and disease in which an estimated 10 million people died, but still the East India Company expected their taxes to be paid.
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