Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Chamberof Commerce

Chamber of Commerce, an association of the principal merchants and traders of a town or district to promote and defend the interests of trade and commerce. The earliest known instance is at Marseilles at the end of the fourteenth century. This body consisted of a small number of representatives of merchants of the town, and seems to have had some share in the municipal government. It was formally reconstituted by Louis XIV., and during the last half of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century, chambers modelled upon it were formed in various French towns - Lille, Bayonne. Montpellier, Dunkirk, and others. The number of elected members was very small - ten or twelve - and certain Government officials presided or were members ex officio. The duty of the Chambers was to make representations to the Government with reference to the best means of promoting trade and commerce. These chambers were abolished at the Revolution, but restored in 1802 by Napoleon. During this century several laws have dealt with them, and they were finally reorganised by Napoleon III. as President and Emperor in 1851 and 1852. They are authorised by the Prefect of a department on the petition of the representatives of commerce or of some branch of commerce in that department, and after considering any objections. They are elected by and from the principal commercial men in the area (the department or arrondissement) which they represent, and their duty is to make representations to the Government with regard to the customs duties, legislation respecting commerce, and other matters affecting its interest, and to present plans for its better promotion. They also manage some public or semi-public institutions devoted to commerce - the bourses or exchanges, for instance - and may hold property.

Two Scottish chambers, those of Glasgow and Edinburgh, are legally incorporated, but the English chambers are all purely voluntary associations, elected from the commercial men (excluding retail traders and employes) in a town, and meeting at intervals to deliberate on matters affecting their common interest. A central organisation, the Associated Chambers of Commerce, was formed in 1882. The London Chamber has recently devised a scheme for the improvement of commercial education, while the Manchester Chamber rendered valuable support to the free trade agitation. In America such societies also exist, and in various continental countries; but the term in America is sometimes applied to the buildings where merchants meet to deal with one another.