Thomas Pownall M.P., F.R.S., Governor of Massachusetts Bay, Author of The Letters of Junius. With a supplement comparing the Colonies of Kings George III and Edward VII …

London, Henry Stevens, Son & Stiles, 1908.

Large 8vo, pp. ix, [1] blank, 470, 56, 25, [1] blank; complete with frontispiece portrait, errata slip and 21 plates, of which 10 are folding; occasional pencil marginalia; a good copy in the original publisher’s cloth, a little shaken and rubbed.


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First edition. Thomas Pownall, English colonial administrator and Governor of Massachusetts, was one of the earliest critics of Adam Smith, publishing a critical Letter (1776) discussing the Wealth of Nations. Although he expressed admiration for Smith’s work in the Letter, he opposed his view of the propensity to barter as a cause of the division of labour. He also defended the monopoly of colonial trade, bounties on exports and restraints on imports, and accused Smith of undermining the economic and military value of the North American colonies and of proposing the dismantling of the empire. ‘His criticism on the whole, reflects a late flowering of mercantilist views and demonstrated that Smith’s ideas did not altogether go unchallenged by exponents of the old order’ (Spiegel in The New Palgrave).

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