In the nineteenth century Adam Smith and others gradually invented a 'tradition' of free trade. This was a towering achievement and has proved to be influential to this day. This book examines this construction of the free trade tradition.
Showing how historical contruction is a vital component in the writing of doctrinal history, Lars Magnusson argues that it is important for historians of economic thought to distance themselves from the practice of writing history backwards. Contrasting what occurred in Britain in the nineteenth century with what occurred in the United States and in Sweden, this book shows that perhaps the classical tradition meant something else entirely in different national contexts.
This original and thought-provoking book is written such that it will be of great interest not only to historians specializing in economic thought, but also historians with other areas of interest.
1. The Invention of a Tradition of Free Trade - An Introduction 2. The Heritage from Smith and Classical Political Economy 3. The Innovation of a Tradition - From the Corn Law to the Fair Trade Controversy 4. The Historical Construction of Mercantilism 5. The American System 6. The Three Systems of Political Economy - A Swedish Case of Translation 7. Epilogue