Sample Essay on the Darien Scheme

Darien Scheme

Darien Scheme was an unfortunate ambition of a few people to establish a colony on the Isthmus of Darien in the year 1698. Following the ill-faced scheme, Scotland lost its economic stability and became bankrupt. According to history, Darien Scheme was a creation of William Peterson, the founder of the Bank of England. Having travelled extensively through America and West Indies, Peterson, a Scot, drew most of his fortunes from international trade. His main intention was to find a colony for his motherland and encourage trade with the rest of the world thus creating wealth and economic development for his nation. The question that historians still grapple with is why Peterson chose Darien, which is the modern Panama. He had never been to Darien, but chose to believe the testimonies of sailors, leading to a tragedy.

To understand this scheme better, we look at the Company of Scotland, whose stakeholders were mainly Scottish and English. It is important to note that English and Dutch shared capital investment risk, during the reign of William Orange from Holland. Nevertheless, the English Parliament annulled their involvement in the scheme, after East India Company threatened to pull out its trading rights. English withdrawal almost killed the scheme idea, save for William Peterson, who convinced Scottish Parliament that the investment would richly benefit Scotland in future.

Image 2Because of the persuasion from Peterson, almost all Scots invested in the scheme, with the wealthy in the society taking the lion share of the investment shares. The scheme was to see them prosper financially. This meant the Company of Scotland had a surplus of £400,000, which was almost equivalent to the wealth of the nation. Peterson built five fine ships using the money and used them to ferry colonists to their new land. They also carried various supplies to keep them before they could establish in the new colony. There were more than enough volunteers for the expedition as most Scots lived in abject poverty.

William Peterson named the new colony Caledonia and gave orders to make the upland area the capital, which would later become News Edinburg. There was jubilation as people hoped for better lives. This was short-lived since Peterson had never seen Darien, a mosquito-infested swamp, which could not support farming and habitation. Many died during the voyage because of unfavorable conditions, reducing the workforce. The state of events was dire that even Peterson lost his wife. Due to lack of contact at home, it was believed that those in Caledonia were prospering. More ships were sent out to the new colony with more Scots. Unfortunately, they encountered the same challenges as their compatriots; many died on the way while others landed dying because of primitive conditions, diseases and starvation. The new settlers at Caledonia faced numerous challenges including battles with the Spanish and starvation. Following a series of calamities, Peterson’s idealistic schemed was dropped. This led to the dissolution of the Company of Scotland by the English Parliament, following an order by William Orange. Because of Scotland’s bankruptcy, the King of England allowed their compensation but it could provide for herself. As a result, the Act of Union was inevitable.

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