The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

United States, Economics in (1776–1885)

  • Stephen Meardon
Reference work entry


Economics in the United States before 1885 was not a discipline of credentialled professionals. Its debates were published in political pamphlets and newspaper editorials as well as college textbooks and scholarly treatises. Its principal project was to set the boundaries of a doctrinal system of economic liberalism and determine the appropriate functions of government. The system was characterized by the sanctity of private property, the celebration of individual labour, and the harmony of the economic and moral orders. Those parts of the system that were imported from abroad were adapted, sometimes ingeniously, to economic and political circumstances at home.


American Economic Association American Free Trade League Banknotes Bastiat, F. Bryant, W. C. Cardozo, J. N. Carey, H. C. Carey, M. Catallactics Combinations Economic liberalism Ely, R. T. Enlightenment Finney, C. Franklin, B. Free banking Free labour doctrine Free trade George, H. Great Awakening Hamilton, A. James, E. Jefferson, T. Land tax Leavitt, J. Liberty Party List, F. Madison, Bishop J. Malthus’s theory of population McCulloch, J. R. Physiocracy Paine, T. Paper money Patten, S. N. Perry, A. L. Petty, W. Political economy Protectionism Public works Raymond, D. Rent Ricardo, D. Say, J.-B. Second Great Awakening Slavery Smith, A. Tucker, G. Turgot, A.R. J. United States, economics in Vattel, E. Wayland, F. Wealth Wells, D. A 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access


  1. Bryant, W.C. 1808. The embargo, or, sketches of the times: A satire. Boston: E.G. House.Google Scholar
  2. Cardozo, J.N. 1826. Notes on political economy. Charleston: A.E. Miller.Google Scholar
  3. Carey, M. 1819. Addresses of the Philadelphia society for the promotion of national industry. Philadelphia: M. Carey and Son.Google Scholar
  4. Carey, H.C. 1836. The harmony of nature as exhibited in the laws which regulate the increase of population and of the means of subsistence: And in the identity of the interests of the sovereign and the subject; the landlord and the tenant; the capitalist and the workman; the llanter and the slave. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard.Google Scholar
  5. Carey, H.C. 1840. Principles of political rconomy. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard.Google Scholar
  6. Carey, H.C. 1848. The past, the present, and the future. Philadelphia: Carey & Hart.Google Scholar
  7. Carey, H.C. 1853. The slave trade, domestic and foreign: Why it exists, and how it may be extinguished. Philadelphia: A. Hart.Google Scholar
  8. Cole, C.C. Jr. 1954. The Social Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826–1860. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  9. de Vattel, E. 1758. The law of nations, or the principles of natural law applied to the conduct and to the affairs of nations and of sovereigns. Trans. Charles G. Fenwick. Vol. 3 of The Classics of International Law: Le Droit des Gens, ed. J.B. Scott. Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution, 1916.Google Scholar
  10. Dorfman, J. 1966. The Economic Mind in American Civilization, 1606–1865. Vol. 2. New York: Augustus M. Kelley.Google Scholar
  11. Dorfman, J. 1969. The economic mind in American civilization, 1865–1918. New York: Augustus M. Kelley.Google Scholar
  12. Eckes, A.E. Jr. 1995. Opening America’s Market: U.S. foreign trade policy since 1776. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  13. Foner, E. 1970. Free soil, free labor, free men: The ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Foner, E. 1976. Tom Paine and revolutionary America. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Franklin, B. 1729. A modest enquiry into the nature and necessity of a paper currency. In The writings of Benjamin Franklin, ed. A.H. Smyth, Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan, 1907.Google Scholar
  16. Franklin, B. 1769. Positions to be examined, concerning national wealth. In The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, ed. A.H. Smyth, Vol. 5. New York: Macmillan, 1907.Google Scholar
  17. George, H. 1879. Progress and poverty: An inquiry into the cause of industrial depressions, and of increase of want with increase of wealth – The remedy. San Francisco: W. M. Hinton.Google Scholar
  18. Hamilton, A. 1791. Report on manufactures. In Encyclopedia of tariffs and trade in U.S. history, ed. C.C. Northrup and E.C. Turney, Vol. 2. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  19. Hamilton, A., J. Jay, and T. Jefferson. 1787–1788. The Federalist. Online. Available Accessed 3 Sept 2006.
  20. Haskell, T.L. 1977. The emergence of professional social science: The American Social Science Association and the nineteenth-century crisis of authority. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Jefferson, T. 1785. Notes on the state of Virginia, 1788. Philadelphia: Prichard and Hall.Google Scholar
  22. Leiman, M.M. 1966. Jacob N. Cardozo: Economic thought in the antebellum South. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  23. McVickar, J. 1825. Outlines of political economy. New York: Wilder & Campbell.Google Scholar
  24. O’Connor, M.J.L. 1944. Origins of academic economics in the United States, 1974. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc..Google Scholar
  25. Paine, T. 1776. Common sense: Addressed to the inhabitants of America, etc. In The complete writings of Thomas Paine, ed. P.S. Foner, Vol. 1. New York: Citadel Press, 1945.Google Scholar
  26. Paine, T. 1778. The American crisis: VII. In The complete writings of Thomas Paine, ed. P.S. Foner, Vol. 1. New York: Citadel Press, 1945.Google Scholar
  27. Perry, A.L. 1866. Elements of political economy. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  28. Petty, Sir W. 1690. Discourse on Political Arithmetic. Reprinted in Essays on Mankind and Political Arithmetic. London: Cassell, 1888.Google Scholar
  29. Raymond, D. 1820. Thoughts on political economy. Baltimore: F. Lucas.Google Scholar
  30. Say, J.-B. 1821. A treatise on political economy; or the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth. Trans. from the 4th edn by C.R. Prinsep. Boston: Wells and Lilly.Google Scholar
  31. Smith, A. 1789. In An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations, 5th ed., ed. E. Cannan. New York: Modern Library, 1937.Google Scholar
  32. Spiegel, H.W. 1960. The rise of American economic thought. Philadelphia: Chilton Company.Google Scholar
  33. Wayland, F. 1835. Elements of moral science. New York: Cooke and Co..CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wayland, F. 1837a. Elements of moral science. 4th ed. Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1859.Google Scholar
  35. Wayland, F. 1837b. Elements of political economy. New York: Leavitt, Lord & Co..Google Scholar
  36. Wayland, F. 1841. Elements of political economy. 4th ed. Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1873.Google Scholar
  37. Wells, D.A. 1869. Report of the Special Commissioner of the Revenue for the Year 1868. In House Ex. Doc. No. 16, 40th Cong., 3rd Session. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Meardon
    • 1
  1. 1.