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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

LAW, John

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LAW, John. (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1671-1794). In 1719 Law developed the "Mississippi Scheme," later called the "Mississippi Bubble," for settling the Louisiana part of New France, particularly the Mississippi Valley. Distributed in France, Germany and Switzerland, Law's pamphlets claimed the land of the upper river valley was rich in silver, GOLD, copper, and LEAD. The soil was described as capable of supporting four crops annually.

Law's glowing accounts led to the organization of the Mississippi Company that was given a monopoly to trade in Louisiana and Canada. Thousands of Frenchmen eagerly became stockholders. A financial crisis came in 1720 when proof reached stockholders that their money was doing little to develop business in America; they rushed to sell their stock.

While those who sold early made enormous profits, many investors were financially ruined. Law's scheme was a economic failure, but it contributed to the interest many Europeans had in exploring, if not settling, the new land-including the area that became Iowa.