18th century French economist
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  • Anne Robert Jacques Turgot

    Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de l'Aulne (10 May 1727 - 18 March 1781), commonly known as Turgot, was a French economist and statesman. Originally considered a physiocrat, he is today best remembered as an early advocate for economic liberalism. He is thought to be the first economist to have recognized the law of diminishing marginal returns in agriculture.


    Turgot, Anne-Robert-Jacques (1727-1781), by David M. Hart, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    "Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot was an economist and a statesman. Turgot was associated with the Physiocratic school of economics ... As finance minister, Turgot attempted to reproduce on a larger scale the reforms he had pioneered at Limoges. In his Six Edicts of 1776, Turgot tried to bring an end to official corruption and military requisitioning, abolish many local monopolies, introduce reforms in banking and taxation, and return to internal free trade in grain. Unfortunately, his efforts failed due to ... the ability of the vested interests who were being harmed by reform to organize against it ..."
    Related Topic: France


    10 May 1727, in Paris, France


    18 Mar 1781, in Paris, France


    Life and Works of Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, by David M. Hart
    The Library of Economics and Liberty


    Anne Robert Jacques Turgot (1727 - 1781), Religion & Liberty, Feb 1996
    "He initiated reforms intended to deregulate agriculture and industry, encourage free trade and open borders, and establish fairer labor practices. He thought that eliminating such restrictions on the economy would usher in an era of such unprecedented prosperity that the regime's fiscal problems would evaporate."
    Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Who First Put Laissez-Faire Principles into Action, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Aug 1997
    "Turgot displayed remarkable vision. For instance, he predicted the American Revolution in 1750, more than two decades before George Washington and Benjamin Franklin saw it coming. In 1778, Turgot warned Americans that slavery is incompatible with a good political constitution. He warned that Americans had more to fear from civil war than foreign enemies."
    Editorial: Turgot and the Battle Against Physiocracy, by Leonard Liggio, Literature of Liberty, 1979
    Editorial essay for volume II, number 1; discusses those who influenced Turgot and those influenced by him
    "The continuing significance of Anne Robert Jacques Turgot (1727–1781) is both as a founder of modern economic science and as a powerful shaper of the Enlightenment idea of progress. The youthful Turgot was deeply moved by the liberal temper of Montesquieu's L'Esprit des Lois (1748). Turgot, however, found Montesquieu's determinism uncongenial; he was deeply impressed by the role of the human mind in molding history. ... Turgot was a disciple of one of the two masters of the Physiocratic School, the brilliant teacher J. C. M. Vincent de Gournay (1712–1759), in whose honor Turgot wrote his Eloge de Gournay."
    The Brilliance of Turgot, by Murray Rothbard, 1986
    Biography and review of Turgot's major writings; introduction to The Turgot Collection
    "... Turgot points out that self-interest is the prime mover of the [market] process, and that individual interest in the free market must always coincide with the general interest. The buyer will select the seller who will give him the lowest price for the most suitable product, and the seller will sell his best merchandise at the highest competitive price."
    The Early Economists Who Tried to Save France, by Richard Ebeling, 31 Oct 2016
    Discusses the Physiocrats, focusing on Quesnay and Turgot
    "... Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, brought some of the ideas of greater economic freedom into practice, at least to a limited degree. In 1761 Turgot was appointed the intendant (or governor) of the French province of Limoges — a position that he held for 12 years, with virtually complete administrative powers within the province's boundaries as the local representative of the central authority in Paris. He did away with one of the most oppressive and hated taxes in the province, the corvee, which was the compulsory labor required of the peasantry to construct and repair roads, for which labor the workers received no pay."
    The Physiocrats, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, Dec 2010
    Discusses the 18th century French economists and their influences on Adam Smith, on American agriarianism and on Henry George
    "Their advocacy was not merely intellectual. In August 1761, Turgot became a tax collector for the Limoges region and began to apply the insights of his mentor Quesnay. For example, he surveyed land to obtain a more just assessment of the value upon which it was taxed. ... Smith also became well acquainted with other prominent Physiocrats, including Turgot, who later became minister of finance and authored 'Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth.'"

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