Say's Political Economy

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Traité d’économie politique, 1803.

Traité d'économie politique or in English "A Treatise on Political Economy; or The Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth" or more commonly, Say's Political Economy was written by Jean-Baptiste Say. The first edition appeared in 1803, and the last edition of "Say's Political Economy", which appeared during the life of the author was the 5th (1826). The 6th, with the author's final corrections, was edited by the eldest son, Horace Émile Say, himself known as an economist, in 1846. The work was translated into English “from the 4th edition of the French” by C. R. Prinsep (1821), into German by Ludwig Heinrich von Jakob (1807) and by C. Ed. Morstadt (1818 and 1830), and, as Say himself informs us, into Spanish by José Queypo.[1]

In 1803 appeared his principal work, Say's Political Economy. In 1804, having shown his unwillingness to sacrifice his convictions for the purpose of furthering the designs of Napoleon, he was removed from the office of tribune, being at the same time nominated to a lucrative post, which, however, he thought it his duty to resign. He then turned to industrial pursuits, and, having made himself acquainted with the processes of the cotton manufacture, founded at Auchy, in the "Pas de Calais", a spinning-mill which employed four or five hundred persons, principally women and children. He devoted his leisure to the improvement of his economic treatise, which had for some time been out of print, but which the censorship did not permit him to republish; and in 1814 he availed himself (to use his own words) of the sort of liberty arising from the entrance of the allied powers into France to bring out a second edition of the work, dedicated to the emperor Alexander, who had professed himself his pupil.[2]

In the same year the French government sent him to study the economic condition of Great Britain. The results of his observations during his journey through England and Scotland appeared in a tract De l'Angleterre et des Anglais; and his conversations with distinguished men in those countries contributed to greater correctness in the exposition of principles in the third edition of the Traité, which appeared in 1817. A chair of industrial economy was founded for him in 1819 at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers. In 1831 he was made professor of political economy at the Collège de France. He published in 1828–1830 his "Cours complet d'économie politique pratique", which is in the main an expansion of "Say's Political Economy", with practical applications.


Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Say, Jean Baptiste". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

  1. ^ National system of political economy By Friedrich List|Stephen Colwell|1856. p. 6
  2. ^ Richard Whatmore, Ancients versus Moderns? The Politics of Political Economy in France From Rousseau to Constant

Further reading[edit]

  • Hollander, Samuel (2005), Jean-Baptiste Say and the Classical Canon in Economics: the British Connection in French Classicism, London and New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-32338-X .

External links[edit]