Mississippi Bubble, The
Image Courtesy of Karen Kruse
The marker is located in a pull-out area on the north side of IL Route 15, midway between Freeburg and Fayetteville.
Illinois Department of Transportation and The Illinois State Historical Society
"They related that there are mines of gold and silver...There is reason to believe that the French who will settle among the Illinois Indians will make all these rich discoveries when the colony becomes more thickly populated." Thus, John Law, Scot adventurer and gambler, inflated the "Mississippi Bubble" in the fall of 1717. He had convinced the Duke of Orleans, regent for Louis XV, that paper money issued by a national bank and backed by a vast trading and colonizing enterprise would bring new life to the French economy. As part of the scheme, on January 1, 1718, the Company of the West received a 25-year charter to trade, settle and govern in the Mississippi Valley. Speculation in the shares ran wild as Frenchman of all classes engaged in the fantasy before the bubble burst in 1720 and left many investors bankrupt.
Law's vision of the development of the region required more time and money than he had. Exaggerated accounts attracted some colonists; force brought others. As the operations of the Company in lower Louisiana expanded, the district of Illinois profited. Several French villages sprang up in the American Bottom south of here and mining expeditions searched for the fabled minerals. The real wealth in Illinois, however, was the fur trade and the agricultural produce which sustained the other French posts. The Company struggled along until Indian warfare and inadequate financial returns forced the surrender of its charter in 1731.
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