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Virginia Indian Company


VIRGINIA INDIAN COMPANY was created in 1714 to improve relations with the Indians. The Tuscarora War in North Carolina in 1711–1715 threatened Virginia's stability and its access to the lucrative trade in deerskins and Indian slaves to the south. Throughout the 1690s, Governor Francis Nicholson unsuccessfully advocated the creation of a strong trading concern to reduce trader abuses and limit French activities in the west, but fears that unscrupulous traders would cause another war finally prodded the colonial assembly to act. Authorized by provincial statute in 1714, the Virginia Indian Company was a private company of shareholders given exclusive control over traffic with the Indians in exchange for running the fort and Indian school at company headquarters at Fort Christanna. The organization supplied tribes, reopened trade with the Catawbas and Cherokees, and sponsored the discovery—made in the spring of 1716—of a passage through the Blue Ridge Mountains at or near Swift Run Gap. The act creating the corporation was disallowed by the English Privy Council in 1717 on the grounds that the enterprise constituted a monopoly. The history of Virginia affords no other example of a private stock company being given complete control of Indian trade.


Robinson, Walter S. The Southern Colonial Frontier, 1607–1763. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1979.

W. NeilFranklin/j. h.

See alsoFur Trade and Trapping ; Indian Policy, Colonial: Dutch, French, Spanish, and English .

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