Adam Smith's (positive economic) view of slavery

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To present his thoughts he did not explicitly cite Franklin's essay, but he obviously had it in mind when he asserted that slave labor was more costly than free labor "even at Boston, New York, and Philadelphia where the wages of common labor are so high.


He supports this conclusion by observing that the "late resolution of the Quakers in Pennsylvania to set at liberty all their Negro slaves, may satisfy us that their number cannot be very great. Had they made any considerable part of their property, such a resolution could never have been agreeing to." This quotation reveals the weight which Adam Smith assigns to benevolence. Freeing the slaves was certainly a benevolent action but hardly one likely to be undertaken if the price was personal ruin.If the western European succession argued in support of the dominance of wage labor, the overturn seemed to have been the case transversely the ocean. In the plantations, slavery had outdated earlier forms of labor from Brazil to Carolina. Above a decade before writing Wealth of Nations, Smith had himself concluded that repression was the established form of labor in the world, and he estimated that slavery was improbable to disappear for ages to come. Smith did not recur this prophecy in the end of eighteenth century. In its place he offered motives for the apparently general ubiquitous partiality for slaves, regardless of their relative inadequacy while compared with freemen. ...
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