Chambers of Commerce

In France, Chambers of Commerce were founded, on the order of Louis XIV., in the early years of the 18th century (Bordeaux 1702). When, in the Napoleonic Years, French rule was extended over other parts of Europe, Chambers of Commerce were founded in the areas under French influence - Rotterdam 1803, Trieste 1811 (i.e., preceding organizations transformed into Chambers of Commerce).
With the defeat of the French, in many cities (Triest, Hamburg) the Chambers were abolished, the older organizations restored. Not so in the Netherlands, where King Willem I. in 1815 confirmed the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
In the Prussian Rhine Province, the Elberfeld and Barmen Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 1830. In the Hanseatic, and independent city of Bremen, the preceding organization was transformed into a Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1849. The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce dates back to 1850, the one in Münster, Prussian Westphalia to 1854.

The French model of the Chamber of Commerce thus, over time, replaced earlier organizations such as corporations of merchants, bourses etc., as they addressed a wider scope of issues, regulated and promoted local business, ran educational institutions etc.
In the early 19th century, Chambers of Commerce played an important role in the promotion of railway and canal construction projects, which often were private enterprises and required large investment sums. An example may be the Chambers of Commerce within the United Netherlands 1815-1830, the ones of the north promoting free trade, the ones of the south protective tariffs to protect the nascent Belgian industry against English imports. The policy of the Dutch government, oscillating between both positions, contributed to the separation of Belgium and the Netherlands in 1830/1839.
Another example is provided by the competing ports of Antwerp (Belgium) and Rotterdam (Netherlands) after Belgian independence; the Iron Rhine railway project, connecting Antwerp with the industrial regions of the Rhineland (Prussia) and Westphalia, would considerably enlarge her hinterland, the natural hinterland of Rotterdam; the Iron Rhine would permit the Prussian ex- and importers to circumvent the Dutch Rhine toll collected at Lobith.
In the many German states, the Chambers of Commerce supported economic unions, the Zollvereine of the 1820es and 1830es.

Chambers of Commerce in Europe, from Chamber Find, listing incomplete, many outdated links
History of the London Chamber of Commerce<./B>
History of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce
Chambre de la Commerce de Bordeaux, click Presentation, Histoire, in French
Geschichte der Handelskammer Triest (Gistory of the Triest Chamber of Commerce), in German
Geschichte der IHK Nord Westfalen (History of the Northern Westphalia Chamber of Commerce), in German
History of the IHK Bremen, in German
History of the IHK Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid
History of the IHK Hamburg, in German
Geschiedenis der Kamer van Koophandel te Rotterdam

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 28th 2003, last revised on November 16th 2004

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