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The Life of Adam Smith$
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Ian Simpson Ross

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198288213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198288212.001.0001

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Times of Hardship and Distress

Times of Hardship and Distress

(p.349) 21 Times of Hardship and Distress
The Life of Adam Smith

Ian Simpson Ross

Oxford University Press

In the face of declining strength in the 1780s and grief over the death of his nearest relatives, his mother and his cousin Janet Douglas, Smith strove to leave behind him the works he had already published in the ‘best and most perfect state.’ It fell out that he completed the additions that went into the standard third edition of WN (1784) in a time of political distress. These included the rise and fall of Shelburne as the Prime Minister whose drive to make peace with the Americans was based in part on Smith's free trade teaching; the subsequent collapse of the Fox–North coalition over efforts to reform the East India Company, which is severely criticized in the third edition of WN; and the onset of the administration of Pitt the Younger, who heeded WN's policy advice with regard to smuggling and trade with France. Smith also intensified his fight against the absurdity of the government's mercantile system of encouragements and prohibitions, which thwarted competition in the market place and favoured clamorous producers over consumers.

Keywords:   absurdity, encouragements, Pitt, prohibitions, Shelburne

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