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The Turgot Collection: Writings, Speeches, and Letters of Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune

  • Turgot Collection
March 17, 2011

Tags History of the Austrian School of EconomicsPricesValue and Exchange

Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot (1727-1781) was one of the foremost classical liberals of the 18th century. In the opinion of Murray Rothbard, he was one of the greatest economists of all time, and he served with distinction under Louis XVI as Minister of the Navy and Comptroller-General. In these positions, he attempted to put into practice his free market ideas, but, owing to the opposition they encountered, the king dismissed him.

The Turgot Collection provides a well-chosen collection of Turgot’s economic writings. Although he was a disciple of the Physiocrats, he extended economic theory, in remarkably original ways, beyond what this group had accomplished. He consistently defended free trade, arguing that the local knowledge of those engaged in trade was far superior as a guide to policy than whatever could be gleaned by government bureaucrats.

Turgot, as readers of this collection will discover, also developed an early though incomplete version of the subjective theory of value and anticipated the notion of opportunity cost. He did pioneering work on the importance of the capitalist-entrepreneur in the economic process.

Turgot’s work was by no means confined to economics. Like other figures of the Enlightenment, he believed that mankind progresses through a series of historical stages. “On Universal History,” included here, elaborates this view.

Like Voltaire, Turgot hoped that his reforms could be put into effect through appeal to an enlightened monarch. In that regard, he proposed that a system of state schools should be established. In this way, he hoped, young people could be taught liberal principles; and what he regarded as the malign influence of the Church on education could be reduced.

The book also includes selections from Turgot’s correspondence with other figures of the Enlightenment, including Voltaire, Condorcet, and Hume.

The Turgot Collection will give readers a thorough grounding in the work of a major economist and advocate of freedom.

Introduction by Murray N. Rothbard


1. Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth
2. Letter to l’Abbé de Cicé, since then Bishop of Auxerre, on the Replacing of Money by Paper. Also Known as the “Letter on Paper-Money”
3. Remarks on the Notes to the Translation of Josiah Child
4. Fairs and Markets
5. In Praise of Gournay
6. Observations on a Paper by Saint-Péravey
7. Observations on the Paper by Graslin
8. Value and Money
9. Plan for a Paper on Taxation
10. Extracts from “Paper on Lending at Interest”
11. Extracts from “Letters on the Grain Trade”
12. Letter to l’Abbé Terray on the “Marque des Fers"
13. Six Projects of Edicts Which Suppresses the Corvée and Decrees the Construction of Highways for a Money Price Decreeing the Suppression of Craft-Guilds Which Repeals Certain Rules Concerning Grain Products Enacting the Suppression of the Exchange of Poissy Enacting a Change and Modification of Taxes on Suet Enacting the Suppression of Offices Connected with the Ports, Quays, Stalls and Markets of Paris

14. A Philosophical Review of the Successive Advances of the Human Mind
15. On Universal History

16. On Some Social Questions, Including the Education of the Young
17. Local Government and National Education
18. Religious Liberty “Le conciliateur”
19. Religious Equality 20. Endowments

To Voltaire
To Condorcet
To David Hume
To Mlle. de Lespinasse
To Abbé Morellet
To Dr. Josiah Tucker
To Dr. Richard Price
To du Pont
Appendix: Miscellaneous Extracts Sources Index

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