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PAPER NO. 89-1537 

Political Free Trade?: 

The Lectures on Jurisprudence 

and the Wealth of Nations 

Salim Rashid 

College of Commerce and Business Administration 
Bureau of Economic and Business Research 
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 



College of Commerce and Business Administration 

University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign 

February 1989 

Political Free Trade?: The Lectures on Jurisprudence 
and the Wealth of Nations 

Salim Rashid, Professor 
Department of Economics 


The arguments for Free-Trade presented in the earlier Lectures do 
not coincide with those provided in the Wealth of Nations . It is 
argued that these differences may tell us about the possible influence 
of the Physiocrats as well as Adam Smith's political leanings. 


That the argument for Free Trade in the Lectures on Jurisprudence 
differs in significant ways from that in the Wealth of Nations is a 
point that appears to have escaped notice so far. Two different argu- 
ments for Free Trade are given in the Lectures and neither of them is 
quite the argument later provided in the Wealth of Nations . In view 
of the importance of Free Trade both In the history of economics as 
well as in Adam Smith's own conceptual scheme it is worth examining 
this difference more closely. After describing the axiomatic basis 
for Free-Trade, as developed primarily in Book. IV of the Wealth of 
Nations , in the rest of the Introduction, section II goes on to quote 
from the Lectures on Jurisprudence to illustrate how the argument 
there differs from that in the Wealth of Nations . Section III con- 
siders the possible significance of the change in argument, which 
moves us away from the utilitarian framework of the "Mercantilist" 
literature towards the economic aspects of the natural-law tradition 
of moral philosophers, while Section IV considers how the change in 
argument may have Influenced the perception of Smith as a 
"politician." The argument in the Wealth of Nations , it will be re- 
called, is based on three axioms. 

Al. Individuals wish to maximize wealth. 

A2. Individuals know better than governments how to maximize 
their own wealth. 

A3. National wealth is the sum of individual wealth. 
Al and A2 establish that a policy of non-interference will make indi- 
viduals richest, while A3 makes this policy socially optimal also. So 


far, the axioms establish that leaving a people free to trade is the 

best way to enrich them. To apply it to international trade, we need 

to add 

A4. In international affairs, nations are to be treated as 

By means of A4 a conclusion which had been widely accepted for 

domestic trade was projected into international trade. The reader 

will recall how something very much like A4 is to be found in Dudley 

North's Discourse on Trade, and one is tempted to think of the influ- 
ence of Hugo Grotius, Samuel Pufendorf and the school of distinguished 
seventeenth century theorists of international law. Francis Hutcheson 
was the most prominent teacher of these doctrines in Britain and Smith 
no doubt imbibed a great deal from them. Nonetheless, the case for 
free trade in the Lectures is not unfolded in axiomatic fashion, and 
does not reflect these moral philosophers. 

Before turning to the economic arguments of the Lectures , it may 
be useful to provide some illustrations of the earlier use of personal 
relations in giving a basis for international relations. The follow- 
ing are taken from the systematic and scholarly exposition of Richard 
Zouche (1650) 4 

To community in time of peace belongs also owner- 
ship... and such ownership, in movable goods, is 
acquired generally by the same modes as among pri- 
vate persons . 

There is due between different princes or peoples a 
right of civil convention, by virtue of which they 
bind themselves , as do private persons . 

As lawsuits arise from wrongs and injuries between 
private persons, so wars arise between those 
[peoples] who have no judge. [emphasis added] 


II. There are actually two different arguments for free trade in the 
Lectures . The first one develops the therae that wealth and abundance 
are the same and things that are abundant must be cheap. In the 

quotes that follow from the Lectur es it is important to note that 
"natural price" as used by Smith has no necessary relationship with 

natural-law and is simply Smith's way of describing the remuneration 

necessary to attract and keep someone at any given job. 

Whatever policy tends to raise the market price 
above the naturall one diminishes publick opulence 
and naturall wealth of the state. For dearness and 
scarcity, abundance and cheapness, are we may say 
synoniraous terras. For whatever abounds much will be 
sold to the inferior people, whereas what is scarce 
will be sold to those only of superior fortune, and 
the quantity will consequently be small. So far 
therefore as any thing is a convenience or necessary 
of life and tends to the happiness of mankind, so 
far is the dearness detrimentall as it confines the 
necessary to a few and diminishes the happiness of 
the inferior sort. Whatever therefore raises or 
keeps up the price of them diminishes the opulence 
and happiness and ease of the country. 

On the basis of this argument, monopolies, which raise market price 

above natural price, are seen to be detrimental to economic welfare. 

The market price can also be below the natural price due to a 

bounty. In this case, more workers are attracted into the favored 

industry. Since this influx of workers means a loss of workers from 

other industries — an implicit use of "full employment" and explicit 

use of the wages-fund model — the value of aggregate produce is said to 

be lower. This part of the argument is developed more through example 

than through a chain of reasoning. 

The price of grass being raised, butcher's meat, 
in consequence of its dependence upon it, must be 
raised also. So that if the price of corn is dimin- 
ished, the price of other commodities is necessarily 


raised. The price of corn has indeed fallen from 42 
to 35, but the price of hay has risen from 25 to near 
50 shillings. As the price of hay has risen, horses 
are not so easily kept, and therefore the price of 
carriage has risen also. But whatever encreases the 
price of carriage diminishes plenty in the market. 
Upon the whole, therefore, it is by far the best 
police to leave things to their natural course, and 
allow no bounties, nor impose taxes on commodities. 

The second argument starts with the premise that all voluntary 

exchange is mutually advantageous. It is embedded within a detailed 

attack on the principle that opulence consists of money. 

The bad idea of publick opulence consisting in 
money has been productive of other bad effects. 
Upon this principle most pernicious relations have 
been established. These species of commerce which 
drain us of our money are thought dissadvantageous 
and these which increase it beneficial; therefore 
the former are prohibited and the latter encour- 

All commerce that is carried on betwixt any two 
countries must necessarily be advantageous to both. 
The very intention of commerce is to exchange your 
own commodities for others which you think will be 
more convenient for you. When two men trade be- 
tween themselves it is undoubtedly for the advan- 
tage of both. The one has perhaps more of one 
species of commodities than he has occasion for, he 
therefore exchanges a certain quantity of it with 
the other, for another commodity that will be more 
useful to him. The other agrees to the bargain on 
the same account, and in this manner the mutual com- 
merce is advantageous to both. The case is exactly 
the same betwixt any two nations . [emphasis added] 

After this explicit identification of the principles guiding two- 
person and two-nation trade there follows an argument that, since rich 
men gain more than poor men when they trade, rich nations will gain 


more than poor nations when they trade. 

In general we may observe that these jealousies and 
prohibitions are most hurtfull to the richest 
nations, and that in proportion as a free commerce 


would be advantageous. When a rich man and a poor 
man deal with one another, both of them will in- 
crease their riches, if they deal prudently, but 
the rich man's stock will increase in a greater 
proportion than the poor man's. In like manner , 
when a rich and a poor nation engage in trade the 
rich nation will have the greatest advantage , and 
therefore the prohibition of this commerce is most 
hurtful to it of the two. All our trade with 
France is prohibited by the high duties imposed on 
every French commodity imported. It would however 
have been better police to encourage our trade 
with France. [emphasis added] 

After some further description of the silliness of the system which 

identifies money and wealth, Smith concludes: 

From the above considerations it appears that 
Brittain should by all means be made a free port, 
that there should be no interruptions of any kind 
made to forreign trade, that if it were possible 
to defray the expences of government by any other 
method, all duties, customs, and excise should be 
abolished, and that free commerce and liberty of 
exchange should be allowed with all nations and 
for all things. 

The first argument provided in the lectures has a modern ring in 
that a demand-supply framework is (implicitly) used to evaluate the 
costs of economic policy; the second argument, on the other hand, has 
a definite axiomatic ring to it — all free exchange is mutually 
beneficial — but it does not quite tell us how to make the transition 
to the growth of national wealth. The first argument may be con- 
sidered a "cost-benefit" or utilitarian approach, while the second one, 
although noticing the benefits of freedom, flows more easily from a 
natural rights framework. Before proceeding to discuss the possible 
implications of the change in argument, it is worth noting Keynes' 
view that there was a general presumption that the two methods would 
lead to the same conclusion. 


Suppose that by the workings of natural laws indi- 
viduals pursuring their own interests with 
enlightenment in conditions of freedom always tend 
to promote the general interest at the same time! 
To the philosophical doctrine that government has 
no right to interfere, and the divine that it has 
not need to interfere, there is added a scientific 
proof that its interference is inexpedient. This 
is the third current of thought, just discoverable 
in Adam Smith who was already in the main to allow 
the public good to rest on "the natural effort of 
every individual to better his own condition," but 
not fully and self-consciously developed until the 
nineteenth century begins. The principle of 
laissez-faire had arrived to harmonise individual- 
ism and socialism, and to make at one Hume's egoism 
with the greatest good of the greatest number. 

Nonetheless, the potential for a conflict was clearly stated by 


I have not . . . any horror, sentimental or 
anarchical, of the hand of government. 1 leave it 
to Adam Smith, and the champions of the rights of 
man (for confusion of ideas will jumble together 
the best subjects and the worst citizens upon the 
same ground) to talk of invasions of natural 
liberty, and to give as a special argument against 
this or that law, an argument the effect of which 
would be to put a negative upon all the laws. 


III. Why did Smith change the nature of the arguments for free trade 
in the period between the Lectures and the Wealth of Nations ? Let us 
first note the internal weakness of the argument based on differences 
in market and natural price. The link between cheapness and abundance 
is flawless and the argument against having market prices higher than 
natural prices a valid conclusion therefrom. However, the claim that 
bounties actually hurt is not clearly developed. Instead of focussing 
upon the inefficiency of taxing people to pay for the bounty, Smith 
goes on to talk about grass and fodder and so on. The inconclusive- 
ness of the argument probably struck him during the composition of the 
Wealth of Nations . Secondly; it should be noted that the utilitarian 
approach to free trade did not entirely disappear from the Wealth of 
Nations . The analysis of scarcities in Book IV provides a curious 

example where a conclusion as strong as that of a natural rights argu- 

raent is drawn from a "cost benefit" analysis. Thirdly, it has been 

noted that Smith's price theory in the Lectures , but not in the Wealth 

of Nations , is based upon labor as the only cost of production. 

Could the move to incorporate non-labor costs have convinced Smith 
that the contrast between market price and natural price was in- 
adequate for his purposes? By rejecting an argument based on prices 
and taking up one based on the benefits of freedom, Smith is moving 
towards the Pufendorf-Hutcheson legacy over time. As the cost- 
benefit approach can lead to a defense of intervention — witness 
Bentham's Defense of a Maximum — there is the possibility that Smith 
wished to minimize any exceptions to free trade. 


If it is indeed true that Smith altered one of his main arguments 

against government interference between the Lectures and the Wealth of 

Nations , could the change have had something to do with the Physiocrats? 

This is a connection that has been raised and dismissed often. In 

past discussions of Physiocratic influence, such as that of Edwin 

Cannan, most attention has been drawn to the insertion of a theory of 

distribution in the Wealth of Nations . Perhaps this is due to Dugald 

Stewart's claim, in his Account of Smith's life, that Smith was in 

possession of his principal free-trade results by 1755. However, in 

the quote accompanying this claim, there are only results, such as 

the beneficience of free trade, but no proofs . 

Little else is required to carry a state to the 
highest degree of affluence from the lowest 
barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable 
administration of justice; all the rest being 
brought about by the natural course of things. All 
governments which thwart this natural course, which 
force things into another channel, or which en- 
deavour to arrest the progress of society at a 
particular point, are unnatural, and, to support 
themselves, are obliged to be oppressive and 
tyrannical . . . 

Smith's membership in a society which awarded premiums, the Edinburgh 

Society, provides some circumstantial grounds for believing that Smith 

was not quite seen as an ardent supporter of "Free-Trade" until after 

his professorial days. The prevailing contrary impression is probably 

due to John Rae's claim that 

In his [Smith's] lectures on jurisprudence and 
politics he had taught the doctrine of free trade 
from the first, and not the least remarkable result 
of his thirteen years work in Glasgow was that 
before he left he had practically converted that 
city to his views 


A careful consideration of the self-interest of the (protected) trade 
of Glasgow merchants would lead us to think otherwise. While this 

claim of Rae's has been repeated by various scholars, Rae himself 

1 f\ 
contradicts it 30 pages later. 

those Glasgow merchants . . . are not necessarily 
free-traders because they want free import of raw 
materials. That was advocated as strongly from the 
old mercantilist standpoint as it is now from the 
free-trade one. 

How are we to tell whether Smith was able to justify his conclusion in 
the quote provided by Dugald Stewart? The existence of a different 
argument in the Lectures suggests that Smith may have begun from a 
natural rights basis in the 1750s, abandoned it for about a decade, 
and then returned to it again. Whether or not the return was stimu- 
lated by the Physiocrats we do not know. When Stewart first discussed 
Smith's priority on this issue, in 1793, he was convinced of Smith's 
independent discovery of free trade. The Lectures on Political 
Economy , delivered by Stewart between 1798 and 1810, are not as clear 
on this point and in these lectures Stewart even suggests that Smith 
was a popular version of Physiocratic ideas. There have been similar 
"underground" comments on the Physiocrat-Smith connection in the 
literature, but few detailed arguments. Mogens Boserup writes, in his 
book of readings, that he has chosen extracts from Smith in order to 
illustrate the fact that Smith "may be understood as a successor of 
the Physiocratic school." Hans Breras makes a more pointed remark, 
"Much of what Smith had to say had been said before — but in French. 
Academic etiquette of his day demanded no acknowledgements, and he 
offered none." In view of the fact that the early perception of Smith 


in Germany was as a Physiocrat, this is perhaps an issue worth 

*j , • 17 


IV. The attraction of the approach eventually adopted in the Wealth 
of Nations is its close link with natural rights arguments and politi- 
cal radicalism. The fact that Smith had placed human labor as the 
primary agent for creating wealth no doubt helped this link. Smith's 
sympathy for laborers and farm workers and his hostility towards 
masters and landlords has long been noted. Combined with the general 
emphasis on liberty (one recalls the radical stress on liberty given 
by his old teacher, Hutcheson) , the ideas would appear as a powerful 

dissolvent of traditional ideas, especially in Europe, a fact appre- 

ciated by such commentators as Charles Ganilh and Adolphe Blanqui 

Wealth, produced by labour — restores man to his 
primitive dignity, through the sentiment of his 
independence, through his obedience to laws common 
to all, and his sharing in the benefits of society 
in proportion to his services (Ganilh) 

there were no longer any sterile occupations, since 
every body was capable of giving things an exchange 
value, by means of labor. What an encouragement to 
men ill-favored by fortune and to those who did not 
expect the boon of an inheritance! (Blanqui) 

It is a noticeable feature of Smith's analysis that he takes the 

possibility of harmful effects due to a violation of natural rights to 

be sufficient grounds for believing that harm actually does occur. 

The Laws of Settlement are a case in point. 

The link between natural-rights economics and political radicalism 

would have been evident to contemporaries and it perhaps explains the 

fact that the first Parliamentary reference to the Wealth of Nations 

was made by someone ignorant of economics, by Charles James Fox, a 

reference that helped to bolster sales considerably. Subsequently, 

we find some early favorable references to Smith in William Godwin and 


Tom Paine, while one of Smith's earliest admiring editors, Jeremiah 
Joyce, also provides evidence of being a political radical by his 
sharp criticism of that instrument of tyranny — the national debt. 
Another admirer of Adam Smith, Thomas Archard, wrote a pamphlet 
defending the suppression of the French Nobility. Lord Lauderdale, 
later a sharp critic, was a radical in his youth, when he is said to 
have "worshipped" Smith. The point is further strengthened by Lord 
Cockburn's comment that Smith's death was ignored by all except the 
political youth of Scotland. In 1793 the Marquis of Lansdowne even 
went so far as to claim that the ideas of the French Revolution were 
not new but had in fact been propounded earlier by such respectable 
British authors as Adam Smith and Dean Tucker. Dugald Stewart stated 
that people who once associated with Adam Smith, felt embarrassed 
about any association with "liberal" principles in the wake of the 

French Revolution. John Rae has provided a perceptive statement of 

the political impact of Free Trade ideas in the 1790s. 

By French principles the public understood, it is 
true, much more than the abolition of all commercial 
and agrarian privilege which was advocated by Smith, 
but in their recoil they made no fine distinctions, 
and they naturally felt their prejudices strongly 
confirmed when they found men like the Marquis of 
Lansdowne, who were believers in the so-called 
French principles and believers at the same time 
in the principles of Adam Smith, declaring that the 
two things were substantially the same. 

Nor should this entirely surprise us. That Adam Smith had a par- 
tiality for radicalism is evidenced by his admiration for both 

Rousseau and Voltaire, 


Voltaire set himself to correct the vices and 
follies of mankind by laughing at them, and some- 
times by treating them with severity, but Rousseau 
conducts the reader to reason and truth by the 
attractions of sentiment and the force of convic- 
tion. His "Social Compact" will one day avenge 
all the persecutions he suffered. 

Janes Seattle criticized David Hume's skepticism in his Essay on Truth 

and later wrote to Lady Wortley Montagu that even though he had known 

Smith well once, after the publication of the E ssay on Truth — "nous 


avons changez tout cela."" 

The early supporters of Free Trade in English economic thought 
were almost certainly motivated by political considerations — in that 
free trade with France, the traditional enemy, was a part of the Tory 
agenda. With the rise of Sir Robert Walpole, however, the Whigs began 
to cautiously adopt the same "Tory" attitudes towards trade with 
France. Philosophically speaking, the attitudes of the natural rights 
school were far more consonant with the writers of Cato's Letters or 
the Commonweal thmen surrounding Lord Molesworth. The attitudes that 
encouraged the philosophy of laissez-faire had considerable roots in 
liberal religious and political thought, as noted by Jacob Viner and 
M. L. Myers." Ashley's influential view that Smith's contribution lay 
in making a Tory doctrine, Free Trade, acceptable to Whigs is liable 
to misinterpretation unless one recognizes that the underlying reasons 
for the same policy had changed considerably. It is no accident that 

both John Locke and, a half century later, Bishop Law, embody the same 

complex of political and theological notions. When Francis Horner 

refused to make public his criticisms of the Wealth of Nations because 

the good effects of that book were yet to be spread further he may 


well, as a staunchly liberal Whig, have had the politico-economic 

impact in mind. The attitude is more explicit in John Stuart Mill's 

stated reason for adhering to laissez-faire in 1833.*" 

In the meantime that principle, like other negative 
ones, has work to do yet, work mainly of a destroy- 
ing kind, and I am glad to think it has strength 
enough to finish that after which it must soon 
expire; peace be with its ashes when it does expire, 
for I doubt much- if it will reach the resurrection. 

Insofar as the movement towards a philosophic basis for free trade had 
socio-political origins, Smith supports the thesis of Leo Rogin that 

"new systems first emerge in the guise of arguments in the context of 

j i c m26 
social reform. 

Finally, it is worth reiterating that Smith is by no means so 

strongly a free trader in his Lectures , as in the Wealth of Nations . 

Emphasis does a lot in an argument, and the emphasis on free trade in 

the Lectures , relative to all the other matter there, even within the 

economic sections alone, is not as strong as it subsequently became in 

the Wealth of Nations . If we add to this the fact, already noted by 

the editors of the Lectures , that the Lectures take a more positive 

view of government, as well as the fact that the Lectures accept some 

common beliefs, such as the backward bending supply curve of labor and 

the validity of "balance-of-employment" arguments, it would appear 

that Smith's classroom lectures were not as revolutionary when deliv- 

ered as they appeared to be with hindsight. Smith's friends were 

not engaging in repetitious praise when they greeted the Wealth of 

Nations as a system , as though this were an aspect of Smith hitherto 

undeveloped. They knew well a professor of philosophical history, 


whose economic interpretations gave them considerable pride, but the 

author of an axiomatic basis for free-trade was a revelation." 



W. Mitchell, Types of Economic Theory (New York 1967), I, 60-64. 
This interpretation is repeated by several authors, e.g., A. K. 
Chaudhuri, The Wealth of Nations (Calcutta: World Press, 1967). Some 
early critics noted clearly the nature of Smith's axioms, e.g., W. J. 
Mickle in his Introduction to the Lusiad, as described by Jacob Viner 
in his Introduction to John Rae, Life of Adam Smith (New York: Kelley, 
1965), 73. 

I have not been able to find the explicit use of A4 (below) in the 

literature. Its effect depends upon an ambiguity between the wealth 

of all nations and that of individual nations. "International law Is 

on the whole an analogical extension of the laws of justice, much as 

in Grotius," writes Knud Haakanssen, "What Might Properly Be Called 

Natural Jurisprudence," in The Origins and Nature of the Scottish 

Enlightenment , ed. R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner (John Donald, 

Edinburgh, 1982), 208. 

Dudley North, Discourses upon Trade (London: 1691), reprinted 

(1971) by Johnson Reprint Corporation. The Preface claims to quote 

North on this point and North himself expresses such sentiments on 

p. 14. 

R. Zouche, An Exposition ... of Law between Nations trans. J. L. 

Brierly (Baltimore: Lord Baltimore Press, 1911), 8, 23, 27. For 

Pufendorf, see D e Officio Hominis . . . (New York: Oxford University 

Press, 1927), 108. 

Lectures on Jurisprudence ed. R. L. Meek, D. D. Raphael and P. G. 
Stein (Oxford: 0. U. P. 1978), 362. As I have been unable to detect 
any significant differences between the two extant accounts of the 
Lectures , I have used them interchangably. 

There is no matter directly bearing on my topic in R. F. 
Teichgraber, Free Trade and Moral Philosophy (Durham: Duke U. P., 
1986), or in Donald Winch, Adam Smith's Politics (Cambridge, 1983), 
even though we are all agreed on giving Smith's political views 
greater prominence. 

6 rt 


cit. , 




cit. , 


8 0p. 

cit. , 



cit. , 


As quoted by R. Kanth, Political Economy and Laissez Faire (New 
Jersey 1986), 25. This book provides a welcome change In its reasser- 
tion of the politics in Political Economy. 


W. Stark, ed. Jeremy Bentham's Economic Writings (London 1954), 
vol. 3, 257-58. 


Smith's arguments were applied, with some vehemence, by Edmund 

Burke, Thoughts and Details on the Scarcity (London 179 5). 

The tension between the "natural law" and the "utilitarian" argu- 
ments continued throughout classical economics. Bentham, for example, 
first refined the "natural law" argument and then the "utilitarian" 
one, whereas J. S. Mill did the reverse. E. F. Paul, Moral Revolution 
and Economic Science (Greenwood Press, 1979). P. Schwartz, The New 
Political Economy of J. S. Mill (Duke U.P., 1972). 


M. Bowley, Studies in the History of Economic Thought before 1370 

(London: MacMillan, 1973), 108, 121. 


That the Lectures clearly demonstrate Smith's philosophical 

sources is also emphasized in E. Pesciarelli, "On Adam Smith's Lectures 
on Jurisprudence," Scottish Journal of Political Economy (Feb. 1986), 
33, 1, 74-85. 

E. Cannan, introduction to the W ealth of Nations (New York, 
1397), xxxix. Collected Works of Dugald Stewart (Edinburgh 1372), X, 

■I C. 

John Rae, Adam Smith , op . cit . , 119, 60, 92. 

17 Collected Works of Dugald Stewart (Edinburgh 1858-1873), VIII, 
306. M. Boserup, Peres Egne Ord (Copenhagen). H. Brems, "Frequently 
Wrong, but Rarely in Doubt," Challenge (Nov. -Dec, 1987), 55. I am 
grateful to Hans Brems for the translation of Boserup' s Danish original. 
K. Tribe, Governing Economy (Cambridge University Press, 1988), chs. 
6 and 7 . 


Much of the evidence on this point has been gathered in Eli 

Ginzberg, The House of Adam Smith (New York 1930). 

Charles Ganilh, An Inquiry into the Various Systems of Political 
Economy (New York; Kelley reprint; 1966), 46. 

Adolphi Blanqui, History of Political Economy in Europe (New York, 
1880), 386. 


John Rae wishes to minimize the impact of the reference to the 

Wealth of Nations by Fox, but Homer Vanderblue shows that Smith's 
publisher did take the Impact of Fox's favorable reference quite 
seriously. Fox himself was otherwise ignorant of economics. John 
Rae, Adam Smith (London: 1895), 289. Homer Vanderblue, Adam Smith 
and the Wealth of Nations (Boston, 1936), 5. "It was far from refor- 
mers' minds to make government stronger and more centralized. Most, 
like Tom Paine and William Godwin, thought there was a surfeit of 
government already and aimed to fumigate the state of its leeches." 
Roy Porter, English Society in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1982). 



Rae, op_. cit . , 292. 


op . cit . , 372. Smith is said to have spoken of both Rousseau 

and Voltaire "with a kind of religious respect." 


Beattie's letter is in the Huntington Library, California. For 

Smith's continuing serviceability to radical causes see W. Stafford, 

Socialism, Radicalism and Nostalgia (Cambridge; C.U.P. 1987) and N. W. 

Thompson, The People's Science (Cambridge; C.U.P. , 1984). Michael 

Perelman has gathered together a fair amount of evidence showing how 

resentful Smith was at having to be beholden to his social superiors. 

"Adam Smith and Social Relations," presented at the History of 

Economics Society meetings (Boston 1987). He has also noted Smith's 

radicalism was more petit bourgeois than working-class. 


W. J. Ashley, "The Tory Origin of Free Trade Policy," Quarterly 

J ournal of Economics (July 1897). Ashley's views are repeated by 

E. R. A. Seligman in his Introduction to T he Wealth of Nations (New 

York, 1910). P. Langford, The Excise Crisis (Oxford: 1975); C. 

Robbins , The Eighteenth Century Common Wealth Man (Harvard: 1959); 

M. L. Myers, T he Soul of Modern Economic Man (Chicago: 1983); 

J. Clarke, English Society 1660-1832 (Cambridge 1985). 


"By the end of the [eighteenth] century there was often to be 

found the combination of a thirst for knowledge with a critical and 

realistic attitude to politics and religion," J. H. Plumb, "Reason and 

Unreason in the Eighteenth Century," in Some Aspects of Eighteenth 

Century England ed M.E. Novak (UCLA 1971), 15. It is also of interest 

to note how some well-known industrialists, such as William Strutt, 

were strong radicals. Margaret C. Jacob, "Scientific Culture in the 

Early English Enlightenment: Mechanisms, Industry and Gentlemanly 

Facts," in A. C. Kors and P. Korshin, eds., Anticipations of the 

Enlightenment in England, France and Germany (Univ. of Penn., 

Philadelphia, 1987), 134-164. 


As quoted by D. H., MacGregor, Economic Thought and Policy 

(Oxford 1949), 70. 


L. Rogin, The Meaning and Validity of Economic Theory (London 

1950), xiii. This point of view has also been upheld by many scholars 

in dealing with social philosophies, e.g., M. Cowling, "The Use of 

Political Philosophy in Mill, Green and Bentham," Historical Studies , 

5, (London 1965), 141-152. 


The treatment of Banking is the only exception I can think of. 

Perhaps the Scottish banking problems of the early 1760' s are respon- 
sible for Smith's caution on this issue. 
Lectures , op. cit. , 535 and 540. 


R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner, Adam Smith (New York: St. 

Martins, 1982). 



The example of John Millar serves to strengthen one part and 

weaken another part of the thesis of this paper. Millar's reaction to 
the program of free trade in the Wealth of Nations clearly shows that 
he found Smith's espousal of this program to be a novelty. 

"... notwithstanding all the pains he has taken, there are many 
of his positions which 1 find great difficulty in admitting — and some- 
where 1 am not sure in what latitude he means to establish them. In 
particular, his great leading opinion concerning the unbounded freedom 
of trade. I have but a vague notion how far it is true, or how far he 
meant to say it ought to be carried." As quoted by T. Hutchison, 
Before Adam Smith (London, 1988), 412. 

On the other hand, Millar himself was the strongest advocate of 
liberal politics in the Scottish Enlightenment. 





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