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George Scrope (1797-1876), Thomas Attwood (1783-1856), Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890) and John Cairnes (1823-1875)

George Scrope (1797-1876), Thomas Attwood (1783-1856), Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890) and John Cairnes (1823-1875)

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George Scrope was a prolific anti-Ricardian Tory economist, Member of Parliament and Fellow of the Royal Society. However, this was a highly eccentric toryism. Scrope opposed the Malthusian theory of population, favoured free trade and agitated for parliamentary reform. Thomas Attwood was the leading monetary crank of his day and was ridiculed for promoting the ideas of a paper standard currency. Although he presented the mammoth Chartist petition to parliament in 1839, even the Chartists would not contemplate his radical and futuristic monetary innovations.

What McCulloch was to Ricardo, John Elliot Cairnes was to John Stuart Mill, a faithful disciple who did not always see eye to eye with his master. He has been called the last of the classical economists and the title is well deserved. Edwin Chadwick, a one time secretary to Bentham, was influential during the second quarter of the nineteenth century and much of his work, in particular his contributions to the 'Blue Books' of the period, helped to lay the foundations of the British Welfare State. Although a utilitarian in politics and a Ricardian in economics, he had a view of the problems of externalities which went way beyond anything dreamed of by Ricardo.

This series of essays on these four maverick figures vividly conveys the flavour of the English Classical Political Economy in the heyday of the industrial revolution.

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