Living Reference Work Entry

The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

pp 1-2

Date: Latest Version

Adams, Henry Carter (1851–1921)

  • A. W. CoatsAffiliated with


Adams was born on 31 December 1851 in Davenport, Iowa, and died in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on 11 August 1921. In many respects typical of the new generation of late nineteenth-century American social scientists, Adams became a professional economist only after considering a career in the church or in reform political journalism. After graduating from Iowa (later Grinnell) College in 1874, he spent 1 year as a school teacher and another studying at Andover Theological Seminary before obtaining a fellowship at the newly founded Johns Hopkins University, where he received its first PhD, in 1878. At Hopkins, Francis Walker steered him towards public finance, a field to which Adams subsequently made major pioneering contributions. But he was no narrow specialist, and 2 years’ further study in Europe, mainly at Berlin and Heidelberg, laid the foundations for the breadth of interest, historical perspective, and philosophical insight that characterized his later writings.