Jacques Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay

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Jacques Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (French: [də ɡuʁnɛ]; 28 May 1712, Saint-Malo – 27 June 1759, Cádiz) was a French economist and intendant of commerce. He is said by some historians of economics to have coined the phrase laissez faire, laissez passer.[1] He is also credited with coining the term bureaucracy. Together with François Quesnay, whose disciple he was,[1] he was a leader of the Physiocratic School.

Gournay's father was Claude Vincent, a merchant in Saint-Malo as well as a secretary to the king.[2] Gournay didn't write much, but had a great influence on French economic thought through his conversations with many important theorists. He was instrumental in popularizing the work of Richard Cantillon in France.[3]

Gournay was appointed France's intendant du commerce in 1751. One of the main themes of his term in office was his opposition to government regulations because of the way they stunted commerce. He coined the term bureaucratie to describe the situation (literally "government by desks").[4] Gournay's disdain for government regulation of commerce influenced his disciple Turgot.[5] His first name is often mistakenly given as "Jean," due to an error made by Turgot in his letter to Jean-François Marmontel known as In Praise of Gournay.[6]

There is a street, the Rue Vincent-de-Gournay, named after him in Saint-Malo.[7]


  1. ^ a b Ellen Judy Wilson; Peter Hanns Reill (1 August 2004). Encyclopedia Of The Enlightenment. Infobase Publishing. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-8160-5335-3. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Dugald Stewart; John Veitch (1877). The Collected Works of Dugald Stewart: Translations of the passages in foreign languages contained in the collected works of Dugald Stewart. With general index. 1860. T. Constable and co. [etc. ]. p. 238. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Murray N. Rothbard (2006). Economic Thought Before Adam Smith. Ludwig von Mises Institute. p. 386. ISBN 978-0-945466-48-2. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Haridimos Tsoukas; Christian Knudsen (23 June 2005). The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory. Oxford Handbooks Online. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-19-927525-0. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  5. ^ James J. McLain (1977). The Economic Writings of Du Pont de Nemours. University of Delaware Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-87413-114-7. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Turgot, Anne Robert Jacques. Turgot Collection, The. Ludwig von Mises Institute. p. 99n. ISBN 978-1-933550-94-7. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Henri-Georges Gaignard (1973). Connaître Saint-Malo (in French). Fernand Lanore. p. 239. Retrieved 21 July 2012.