Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 1. Early Discussions

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXIV. Economists

§ 1. Early Discussions

ECONOMICS as a science is due to the analysis of the modern economic organization which was beginning to take shape in Great Britain at the time of Adam Smith and in France at the time of the Physiocrats. In the United States the economic transition occurred much later. There, as in Europe, the formulation of systematic thought was preceded by a series of unsystematic discussions and by a groping after true principles. These discussions were the outgrowth of dissatisfaction with existing conditions and centred about definite practical problems. Moreover, in almost all cases, the discussion took the form of a pamphlet literature which, in not a few instances, developed into a wordy warfare. In the pre-Revolutionary period in America there were only a few economic topics that attracted any attention. These were agriculture, trade, taxation, and currency, of which the most important, as well as the most contentious, was the last.