Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 106

years, it seems reasonable to infer that he was
beholden to Franklin for the suggestion. It is within the realm of
reasonable inference, says Mr. Carey, that Franklin did, as Parton
urges, help to educate Smith in the colonial point of view. T. D.
Eliot, in "The Relations Between Adam Smith and Benjamin Franklin
before 1776," _Political Science Quarterly_, XXXIX, 67-96 (March,
1924), after calling attention to the lack of extant correspondence
between them and the silence of their contemporaries concerning a
vital relationship, shows a reasonable hesitancy in observing that
little is known about Smith's alleged debt to Franklin. Like Wetzel
and Carey, Eliot thinks the debt has been exaggerated. He has been
unable to prove Dr. Patten's intuition that in 1759 Franklin went to
Smith in Scotland to urge him to write a treatise on colonial policy.
In 1765 Turgot met Adam Smith. In the following year he published his
_Reflexions sur la formation et la distribution des richesses_,
antedating Smith's _Wealth of Nations_ by ten years. See J.
Delvaille's _Essai sur l'histoire de l'idee de progres_ (Paris, 1910),
chap. IV, on Adam Smith; and Carey, _op. cit._, 152, 158-9, for the
relationship between Turgot and Franklin.

[i-216] Although both Franklin and Smith held to the labor theory of
value (Franklin was indebted to Petty for his use of the term), Smith
was confirmed in his belief before he knew of Franklin or his works.

[i-217] According to Jacob Viner ("Adam Smith and Laissez Faire," in
_Adam Smith, 1776-1926. Lectures to Commemorate the Sesqui-Centennial
of the Publication of 'The Wealth of Nations_,' 116-55), "Smith's
major claim to fame ... seems to rest on his elaborate and detailed
application to the economic world of the concept of a unified natural
order, operating according to natural law, and if left to its own
course producing results beneficial to mankind" (p. 118), which
suggests, especially in _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, that self-love
and social are the same. When Smith came to write the _Wealth of
Nations_, he tended, Viner asserts, to distrust the operations of the
harmonious natural order--yet Viner admits that many passages tend to
corroborate his earlier view expressed in _Theory of Moral Sentiments_
and that "There is no possible room for doubt that Smith in general
believed that there was, to say the least, a stronger presumption
against government activity beyond its fundamental duties of
protection against its foreign foes and maintenance of justice" (p.
140). We shall see elsewhere that Franklin seems to have urged a less
frugal governmental restraint in activities other than economic.

[i-218] _The Colonial Mind_, 173. It is generally thought that
_Principles of Trade_

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