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Law, John

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Definition: Law, John from

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

, John 1671–1729.


Scottish financier active in France, where he engaged in highly profitable speculation on the development of Louisiana. The investment scheme ultimately collapsed, and he fled the country in ruin (1720).

Summary Article: Law, John from The Columbia Encyclopedia
Law, John, 1671-1729, Scottish financier in France, b. Edinburgh. After killing a man in a duel (1694) he fled to Amsterdam, where he studied banking. Returning to Scotland (1700), he proposed to Parliament plans for trade and revenue reforms and published Money and Trade Considered (1705). His ideas and a proposal for a national bank were rejected, and Law went to France. The finances of France were in critical condition at the death of King Louis XIV, and Law succeeded in winning the support of the regent, Philippe II, duc d'Orléans, for a scheme that promised to reduce the public debt and stimulate French trade and industry. Law believed that credit and paper money, by encouraging investment, would regenerate the French economy. In 1716 the regent chartered Law's private Banque générale and authorized it to issue paper currency. In 1717, Law acquired the monopoly of commercial privileges in the F...    Continue Reading
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