Essay on the Nature of Trade in General

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Essay on the Nature of Trade in General
Cover of "Essai Sur La Nature du Commerce en Général" by Richard Cantillon.jpg
Author Richard Cantillon
Country Ireland
Language English
Subject Political economy

Essay on the Nature of Trade in General (French: Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en Général) is a book about economics by Richard Cantillon. Written around 1730, and published in French in 1755. This book was considered by William Stanley Jevons to be the "cradle of political economy".[1]

This work remains Cantillon's only surviving contribution to economics. It was written around 1730 and circulated widely in manuscript form, but was not published until 1755. His work was translated into Spanish by Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, probably in the late 1770s, and considered essential reading for political economy. Despite having much influence on the early development of the physiocrat and classical schools of thought, this work was largely forgotten until its rediscovery by Jevons in the late 19th century.[2] Cantillon was influenced by his experiences as a banker, and especially by the speculative bubble of John Law's Mississippi Company. He was also heavily influenced by prior economists, especially William Petty.

This work is considered the first complete treatise on economics, with numerous contributions to the science. These contributions include: his cause and effect methodology, monetary theories, his conception of the entrepreneur as a risk-bearer, and the development of spatial economics. Cantillon's work had significant influence on the early development of political economy, including the works of Adam Smith, Anne Turgot, Jean-Baptiste Say, Frédéric Bastiat and François Quesnay.[3]


  1. ^ Jevons 1881, p. 342; writes Jevons, "Cantillon's essay is, more emphatically than any other single work, 'the cradle of political economy.'" Cantillon 2010, p. 15; Editors Mark Thornton and Chantal Saucier write, "The influence of Cantillon's manuscript was largely unknown and the book had fallen so far into neglect that William Stanley Jevons was said to have "rediscovered" it in the late 19th century."
  2. ^ Cantillon 2010, p. 15
  3. ^ Nevin, Seamus. "Richard Cantillon: The Father of Economics". History Ireland. pp. 20–23. JSTOR 10.2307/41827152. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Cantillon, Richard (2010) [1755]. An Essay on Economic Theory (PDF). Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig von Mises Institute. ISBN 0-415-07577-7. 
  • Jevons, William Stanley (January 1881). "Richard Cantillon and the Nationality of Political Economy". Contemporary Review. Oxford, United Kingdom: The Contemporary Review Company Limited: 333–360. 

External links[edit]