Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 20. The American Economic Association

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

XXIV. Economists

§ 20. The American Economic Association

The real beginning of the modern science of economics is to be found in that group of younger men, all of them, with one exception, still living, who founded at Saratoga in 1883 the American Economic Association. This has now become one of the most influential scientific organizations in the country. The underlying principles of this group of younger thinkers, almost all of whom had studied in Germany, appeared in 1886 in a volume entitled Science Economic Discussion. The most eminent of the group is John Bates Clark (1847– ), whose chief contributions are found in the Philosophy of Wealth (1886), The Distribution of Wealth (1899), The Control of Trusts (1901), and Essentials of Economic Theory (1907). Professor Clark worked out independently the marginal-utility theory of value as expounded by Jevons, Menger, and Walras, and is to be noted for the elaboration of the doctrine of specific productivity as applied to the shares of distribution. This doctrine, in connection with his theory of capital and his distinction between static and dynamic economics, has shed a flood of light on the recesses of economic life and has been the starting point of much modern discussion. Henry C. Adams (1851– ) published in 1886 his Outline of Lectures upon Political Economy as well as A Study of the Principles that Should Control the Interference of the State in Industries, in which issue was squarely taken with the philosophy of laissez-faire. Later his Public Debts (1887) and the Science of Finance (1898) proved to be the pioneer American works in those fields. Richmond Mayo-Smith (1854–1901) chose the field of statistics, which he treated from the modern and comparative point of view in Statistics and Economics (1888) and Statistics and Sociology (1895), as he was also the first to make a scientific study of the immigrant problem in Emigration and Immigration (1890). Richard T. Ely (1854– ), the first secretary of the American Economic Association, did perhaps more than any of the others in breaking into new fields and in popularizing the modern concepts of economics. Among his contributions may be mentioned French and German Socialism (1883), Taxation in American States and Cities (1888), Monopolies and Trusts (1900), Outlines of Economics (1893), Studies in the Evolution of Industrial Society (1903), and Property and Contract (1914). Simon N. Patten (1852– ), in many ways the most original thinker of the group, made a series of notable contributions in The Premises of Political Economy (1885), The Economic Basis of Protection (1886), The Development of English Thought (1889), The Theory of Prosperity (1902), and The New Basis of Civilization (1907). President A. T. Hadley (1856– ) won his spurs by a scientific study of the railroad problem in Railroad Transportation (1885), and followed this by an attempt to sum up in one volume the present state of modern thought in Economics (1896). F. W. Taussig (1859– ) started with Protection to Young Industries (1883) and followed this with The Silver Situation (1893), Wages and Capital (1896), The Principles of Economics (1911), Investors and Money Makers (1915), and a series of collected essays on the tariff problem. The author of the present sketch (1861– ) is responsible for Railway Tariffs (1887), Progressive Taxation (1892), The Shifting and Incidence of Taxation (1894), Essays in Taxation (1895), The Economic Interpretation of History (1902), The Principles of Economics (1905), and The Income Tax (1911). Among the economists who studied abroad but who have since died may be mentioned President E. B. Andrews of Brown (1844–1917), a student of Helfferich, best known by his Institutes of Economics (1889), and J. C. Schwab (1865–1916) of Yale, a student of Gustav Cohn, whose chief contribution was A Financial and Industrial History of the South during the Civil War (1901).