Adam Smith and the Origins of American Enterprise How the Founding Fathers Turned to a Great Economist's Writings and Created the American Economy

Roy C. Smith

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

240 Pages



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Scottish professor of moral philosophy Adam Smith was already widely known for his ideas of free markets, laissez-faire commerce, and "invisible hand" when he published his The Wealth of Nations in 1776, the year the American Revolution began. Yet English politicians, landed gentry, and the nobility paid little attention and enacted none of Smith's suggested reforms. The American colonies, however, began their existence as an independent nation in 1781 with no money, no industry, no banks, and deep in debt. So the Founding Fathers—particularly Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin—turned to the ideas of Adam Smith to create and jump-start an economic system for America with both immediate and long-sustained results. This study traces the history of the American economy from its locus—as John Steele Gordon calls it, "the greatest of all economic books."


Praise for Adam Smith and the Origins of American Enterprise

"This is the most readable, informative, and genuinely exciting adventure in economic history that I have recently encountered."—James M. Hester, former president of New York University

"Adam Smith's new economic ideas of 1776 appeared just in time to have maximal impact on the thinking of America's founding fathers . . . In this engaging economic and intellectual history, Roy Smith recounts how the United States became the most opulent of countries by putting into practice what the great Scottish economist preached."—Richard Sylla, president of the American Association of Economic Historians

"It is no coincidence whatever that the nation with most successful economy the world has known was born the very same year that Adam Smith published the greatest of all economic books, The Wealth of Nations. Roy C. Smith shows, clearly and informatively, how Smithian economics and American politics and entrepreneurship intertwined to produce that wonder called the American economy."—John Steele Gordon, author of The Great Game and The Business of America: Tales from the Marketplace

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  • Roy C. Smith

  • Roy C. Smith, an Annapolis graduate, was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs for twenty years and has been a professor of entrepreneurship and finance at New York University's Stern School for the past fourteen years. He is the author of several books, including The Global Bankers, The Money Wars, and The Wealth Creators. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

  • Roy C. Smith NYU Photo Bureau Anne Marie Poyo Furlong