Reading35-1 (dragged) 15 - 16 Reading 35-1 The growing and...

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16 Reading 35-1 The growing and manufacture of opium at that date not only proved to be from 1 ½ to 3 times as pro f t- able per acre as growing wheat or rice, but the added value to the East India Company was of an order of pro f t which can only be described by the well-known phrase “the right to print money.” The Indian peasant was, of course, taxed by the Company, so that most of his advantage in growing opium rather than wheat reverted to the Company. The British charged the Chinese merchants about £1500 per ton for opium at a time when tea was about £40 per ton at Canton, and gold less than £4 per ounce. To be historically fair to the British, and to allow that opium required twice the effort in growth, preparation, and manufacture of the best tea, and 4 times that of the average tea, that would still make opium only 3 times the average value, by weight, of tea. But in fact the ratio over all teas at Canton was nearly 40:1 in favor of opium. In 1830 the British exported nearly 3 million pounds, or 1500 tons, of opium a year, worth £2 million in the money of those days. This is equivalent to a billion dollars a year in today’s money. The East India Company and the British government rationalized the opium trade with the kind of bland
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HIST 302 taught by Professor Jensic during the Summer '10 term at Purdue University-West Lafayette.

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