Founders of American Economic Thought and Policy

Founders of American Economic Thought and Policy

Founders of American Economic Thought and Policy

Founders of American Economic Thought and Policy

Excerpt

The history of economic thought in the United States, especially the economic ideas of the founders of American economic theory and public policy, has received relatively little attention. The principal purpose of this treatise is to add something to the rather scanty knowledge of early American economic thought and policy.

The heart of this study consists of the chapters on William Douglass, Hugh Vance, Pelatiah Webster, Tench Coxe, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Taylor and Albert Gallatin. These chapters are based directly and almost wholly on the original sources. It is believed that the men studied in this work are the best representatives of the main economic viewpoints in early America and that the analysis of their doctrines is sufficiently thorough and complete to make this disquisition a worthwhile contribution to the history of economic thought and policy.

The first four chapters of this book were included because, in the opinion of the author and of most of the critics who read the manuscript, they contain much material that is valuable per se and which, moreover, greatly influenced the doctrines and policies of early American scholars and statesmen. The author makes no claim to having made any original contribution to the history of European social theory, but he trusts that he has succeeded in presenting a good analytical summary of the political and economic thought of pre-American revolution social philosophers.

The theories and policies of early American economists were influenced by their European intellectual and social heritage, their New World environment, their personal interests and their class sympathies. While most of the American scholars and statesmen covered in this study were greatly indebted to their European contemporaries and predecessors, their thought is not without interesting and original elements, especially with respect to the policies and measures which they advocated or opposed.

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