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The Politics of TradeThe Overseas Merchant in State and Society, 1660-1720$
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Perry Gauci

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199241934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199241934.001.0001

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The Politics of Trade: The French Commerce Bill of 1713

The Politics of Trade: The French Commerce Bill of 1713

(p.234) Chapter Six The Politics of Trade: The French Commerce Bill of 1713
The Politics of Trade


Oxford University Press

The French commerce bill of 1713 was crucial to the government's attempt to settle Anglo-French trade at the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession, and was considered vital for re-establishing relations between Europe's leading rivals. However, the bill was defeated in the House of Commons by a mere nine votes. The division sent shock-waves through the political world of its day. Economic historians, most notably Donald Coleman, have used the controversy to explore the relationship between early economic theory and political practice, and to demonstrate the faltering steps that commerce took upon the parliamentary stage at that time. Coleman argued that contemporaries perceived trade in ‘quasi-political’ terms, as an adjunct of international relations, and he stressed that the impact of commercial issues could not be properly assessed without such broader perspectives. This chapter builds on Coleman's work by examining the ‘political’ rhetoric of commercial debate, to see whether contemporaries had consciously accorded trade a greater priority on the agenda of state interests.

Keywords:   French Commerce Bill 1713, Donald Coleman, merchants, overseas traders, politicization of trade

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