A group of economists, businessmen, and politicians who became influential in Britain in the 1840s. Based in Manchester, the centre of the cotton industry, and led by such men as John Bright and Richard Cobden, the group followed the laissez-faire philosophy of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. They supported free trade and political and economic freedom, and opposed any interference by the state in industry and commerce. Their influence faded in the 1860s, when many European countries began to favour state intervention in economic matters.
Subjects: History — Literature.