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An Historical Study of Law's System (Classic Reprint)

An Historical Study of Law's System (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from An Historical Study of Law's System

At the death of Louis XIV., France was practically bankrupt. It is true, the floating debt and the capital represented by the rentes amounted to only about 3,000,000,000 livres; but, for the statesmen and financiers of that day, the resources of the kingdom were inadequate to meet the interest charges of this debt and at the same time pay the ordinary expenses of the government. The protracted wars during the reign of the late king had exhausted the vitality of the kingdom. Commerce was prostrate, manufactures were stagnant, agriculture had almost been abandoned. To escape service in the army or starvation at home, many laborers had fled to Italy. Deserted farms were frequently to be met with, and there were vast stretches of uncultivated land where the traveller encountered neither peasants nor domestic animals. The credit of the monarchy was almost entirely gone. In pursuance of a custom of many years' standing, the collection of a large part of the taxes had been farmed out for terms of years to individuals and to companies. To meet current expenses, the government had been obliged to negotiate with these farmers of the revenue for advances upon the taxes which they had the legal right to collect; and thus many of the important sources of revenue had been anticipated for several years.

Various forms of government notes and obligations were in circulation. Some of these had been issued in a regular manner, and some were practically certificates of indebtedness issued from the bankrupt offices of different branches of the revenue service.

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