Frédéric Bastiat


1801 - 1850

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Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) was one of the leading advocates of free markets and free trade in the mid-19 century. He was inspired by the activities of Richard Cobden and the organization of the Anti-Corn Law League in Britain in the 1840s and tried to mimic their success in France. Bastiat was an elected member of various French political bodies and opposed both protection and the rise of socialist ideas in these forums. His writings for a broader audience were very popular and were quickly translated and republished in the U.S. and throughout Europe. His incomplete magnum opus, Economic Harmonies, is full of insights into the operation of the market and is still of great interest to economists. He died at a young age from cancer of the throat. [The image comes from “The Warren J. Samuels Portrait Collection at Duke University.”]