The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

Living Edition
| Editors: Palgrave Macmillan

Adams, Henry Carter (1851–1921)

  • A. W. Coats
Living reference work entry


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.


Professional Economist American Economic Association Narrow Specialist Interstate Commerce Commission Philosophical Insight 
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  1. Brazer, M.C. 1982. The Economics Department at the University of Michigan: A centennial perspective. In Economics and the world around it, ed. S.H. Hymans. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  2. Coats, A.W. 1968. Henry Carter Adams: A case study in the emergence of the social sciences in the United States, 1850–1900. Journal of American Studies 2: 177–197.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. W. Coats
    • 1
  1. 1.