East India Company and its Impact on Bengal

Essay by Jen SmithUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, January 1997

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A new capital city and a new structure of authority in Bengal were direct consequences of

British rule. British trade created some new employment opportunities and offered

potentially more profitable uses for some of their land. The British had a great effect on

the Indians. The reaction the Indians had to the British conquest proves this. In turn, the

British benefited highly from Bengal. For instance, Bengal financed a large part of British

naval and military operations and important parts of British trade beyond its own frontiers.

The British empire in India was established by a private trading firm, the East India

Company, which governed with the consent of Parliament until 1858. The company

bought a strip of sandy beach at Madras in 1639, acquired a lease to the port of Bombay

from King Charles II in 1668, and in 1690 secured from the Mogul empire permission to

build a settlement on a muddy flatland that eventually became Calcutta.

At each of these

three so-called presidency cities the company erected a fort, known as a factory, from

which the British conducted their trading activities.

The British East India Company was chartered by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600 for

trade in the Eastern Hemisphere.1 The British East India Company was initially formed to

break into the Indonesian spice trade, which was dominated by the Dutch. After the

Dutch massacre of English traders at Ammonia in 1623, the company concentrated on the

Indian subcontinent where it inaugurated a lucrative trade in calicoes, indigo, raw cotton

silk, and spices.2

In 1640, after a post was founded at Madras, the East India Company was

rechartered in 1657. A while later it was given the right to coin money as well as the right

to exercise jurisdiction over British subjects in its posts.

In 1661,