Friday, April 07, 2006

New London Society: Connecticut Land Bank, 1732

Awhile back, I noted Andrew McFarland Davis' "A Connecticut Land Bank of the Eighteenth Century" as another important piece in the land bank puzzle. This particular project was chartered as the New London Society United for Trade and Commerce in 1732, and the original grant describes it as an organization for "the promoting and carrying on Trade and Commerce to Great Britain and his Majesties Islands and Plantations in America, and other of his Majesties Dominions, and for encouraging the Fishery, &c., as well for the common good of their own private interests. . ." (See digitized colonial records here: May 1732, pp. [390] [391] [392].) They soon, however, began to issue notes, based on land mortgages. (Facsimiles: [1] [2].) The Assembly, for reasons variously reported (among them the usual unspecified "great disorders and confusions," which seems to be the explanation of choice for state assemblies and unsympathetic historians alike), decided that this overstepped the Society's mandate, and the charter was revoked. (Feb 1732-3, pp. [420][421][422][423].) The printing of private bills of credit was made comparable to counterfeiting, and a new issue of state bills was proposed to help retire the land bank currency. As was often the case, the retirement of the bills involved considerably more "disorders and confusions," with documents in the Assembly records running until May, 1742. The Colonial Connecticut site is well-indexed, once you get to the correct time-segment within the digitized records, and you can follow the story step by step. Just don't miss the order of the Court to "carefully burn and consume the said bills."

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