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10 - Speech on Fox’s India Bill, Six Mercantile Principles, and the Danger of Political Commerce

from Part V - India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2020

Gregory M. Collins
Affiliation:
Yale University, Connecticut
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Summary

Chapter 10 begins with discussion of Burke’s critique of Warren Hastings’s rule in Eleventh Report of Select Committee. Under Hastings, the East India Company fueled bribery, extortion, and fraudulence, which eroded the bond of trust between England and Indian natives. I then discuss Speech on Fox’s India Bill, one of Burke’s most illustrious speeches in which he outlined his plan to reform the maladministration of the Company. I explain why Burke both defended the prescriptive legitimacy of the Company and argued that the corporation should return to being a commercial institution, rather than continue to operate in the capacity of a public administrator. I also explore the six mercantile principles Burke proffers in the speech that he believed were necessary maxims of ethical and effectual commercial activity. Additionally, I demonstrate that Burke’s rebuke of the Company’s violation of Indian property rights disclosed his broader belief in the importance of private property in establishing a strong landed aristocracy and vibrant commercial culture. I conclude that Burke’s attack on the Company underlined his steadfast opposition to the concentration of political and economic power.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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