The French and American Smiths

Iain McLean

in Adam Smith, Radical and Egalitarian

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623525
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672110 | DOI:
The French and American Smiths

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This chapter elaborates the posthumous reputation for Adam Smith as a hammer of the French Revolution. Smith's policy advice shows him to be no friend of the American colonies. But in other respects, his moral philosophy and economic theory was to be of great help to them. The Navigation Acts had made the fortune of Glasgow after the Act of Union, and therefore in a sense had made Smith's own career. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were those who created the institutions of the United States. Jefferson's career was entwined with Madison's throughout their lives. Jefferson and Madison believed that the foundation of the state should be the ‘virtuous farmer’. Alexander Hamilton followed Sir James Steuart rather than Smith. Smith was probably an enemy of the French Revolution. Many of the generation of intellectuals who understood and admired Smith were depleted in the Revolution.

Keywords: Adam Smith; French Revolution; economic theory; moral philosophy; Navigation Acts; James Madison; Thomas Jefferson; Alexander Hamilton; Sir James Steuart

Chapter.  8443 words. 

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