The Mississippi Company of 1684 became the Company of the West in 1717, and expanded as the Company of the Indies from 1719. This corporation, which held a monopoly in French colonies in North America. In May 1716, the Banque Générale Privée, which developed the use of money, was set up by John Law. It was a bank, but three quarters of the capital consisted of government bills and government-accepted notes. In August 1717, he bought the Mississippi Company to help the French colony in Louisiana, in the same year Law conceived a joint-stock trading company called the Compagnie dOccident. Law was named the Chief Director of this new company, which was granted a monopoly of the West Indies. The bank became the Banque Royale in 1718, meaning the notes were guaranteed by the king, Louis XIVs long reign and wars had nearly bankrupted the French monarchy. Rather than reduce spending, the Regency of Louis XV of France endorsed the monetary theories of Scottish financier John Law, in 1716, Law was given a charter for the Banque Royale under which the national debt was assigned to the bank in return for extraordinary privileges. The key to the Banque Royale agreement was that the debt would be paid from revenues derived from opening the Mississippi Valley. The Bank was tied to other ventures of Law—the Company of the West, all were known as the Mississippi Company. The Mississippi Company had a monopoly on trade and mineral wealth, Law was given the title Duc dArkansas. Bernard de la Harpe and his party left New Orleans in 1719 to explore the Red River, in 1721, he explored the Arkansas River. At the Yazoo settlements in Mississippi he was joined by Jean Benjamin who became the scientist for the expedition, in 1718, there were only 700 Europeans in Louisiana. The Mississippi Company arranged ships to move 800 more, who landed in Louisiana in 1718, John Law encouraged Germans, particularly Germans of the Alsatian region who had recently fallen under French rule, and the Swiss to emigrate. Prisoners were set free in Paris in September 1719 onwards, under the condition that they marry prostitutes, the newly married couples were chained together and taken to the port of embarkation. In May 1720, after complaints from the Mississippi Company and the concessioners about this class of French immigrants, however, there was a third shipment of prisoners in 1721. Law exaggerated the wealth of Louisiana with a marketing scheme. The scheme promised success for the Mississippi Company by combining investor fervor, the popularity of company shares were such that they sparked a need for more paper bank notes, and when shares generated profits the investors were paid out in paper bank notes
View of the camp of John Law at Biloxi, December 1720
Weigel's map (1719) intended to promote sales of the Mississippi Company in Germany.
Representation of the very famous island of Mad-head, lying in the sea of shares, discovered by Mr. Law-rens, and inhabited by a collection of all kinds of people, to whom are given the general name shareholders, 1720.