Millionaire

Millionaire

The Philanderer, Gambler, and Duelist Who Invented Modern Finance

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On the death of France's most glorious king, Louis XIV, in 1715, few people benefited from the shift in power more than the intriguing financial genius from Edinburgh, John Law. Already notorious for killing a man in a duel and for acquiring a huge fortune from gambling, Law had proposed to the English monarch that a bank be established to issue paper money with the credit based on the value of land. But Queen Anne was not about to take advice from a gambler and felon. So, in exile in Paris, he convinced the bankrupt court of Louis XV of the value of his idea.
Law soon engineered the revival of the French economy and found himself one of the most powerful men in Europe. In August 1717, he founded the Mississippi Company, and the Court granted him the right to trade in France's vast territory in America. The shareholders in his new trading company made such enormous profits that the term "millionaire" was coined to describe them. Paris was soon in a frenzy of speculation, conspiracies, and insatiable consumption. Before this first boom-and-bust cycle was complete, markets throughout Europe crashed, the mob began calling for Law's head, and his visionary ideas about what money could do were abandoned and forgotten.
In Millionaire, Janet Gleeson lucidly reconstructs this epic drama where fortunes were made and lost, paupers grew rich, and lords fell into penury -- and a modern fiscal philosophy was born. Her enthralling tragicomic tale reveals two great characters: John Law, with his complex personality and inscrutable motives, and money itself, whose true nature even to this day remains elusive.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743211895 | 
  • February 2001
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Chapter 1: A Man Apart

He came to Paris, where he cut such a fine figure that he held the bank at Faro. He usually played at the house of a famous actress, where they played for high stakes, although he was in as great demand with Princes and Lords of the first order, as in the most celebrated academies, where his noble manners and even temper, distinguished him from other players.

Barthélemy Marmont du Hautchamp,

Histoire du système de finances(1739)

It is an evening in November 1708 in the Parisian salon of Marie-Anne de Chateauneuf -- "La Duclos" -- a celebrated actress of Paris's Comédie... see more

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