Historical Period: The 19th Century
Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869) was an officer in the British Navy before leaving because of his opposition to the brutal treatment of sailors. He worked for the free trade magazine The Economist and wrote and lectured on laissez-faire economic ideas to working men’s institutes. He was one of the earliest popularizers of economics for audiences of non-economists and gave lectures on free trade, the corn laws, and labor even before Jane Haldimand Marcet. Hodgskin passionately cared about the concerns of laborers after his experience with the maltreatment of sailors. His discussions of the labor theory of value followed up on David Ricardo and pre-dated John Stuart Mill’s expositions on similar themes. He was later cited by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in Marx’s Capital. He is commonly, though incorrectly, referred to as a Ricardian socialist.
Quotes from Thomas Hodgskin:
- Thomas Hodgskin on the futility of politicians tinkering with bad laws
- Thomas Hodgskin wonders how despotism comes to a country and concludes that the “first step” taken towards despotism gives it the power to take a second and a third
- Thomas Hodgskin argues for a Lockean notion of the right to property (“natural”) and against the Benthamite notion that property rights are created by the state (“artificial”)
- Thomas Hodgskin noted in his journey through the northern German states that the burden of heavy taxation was no better than it had been under the conqueror Napoleon
Titles from Thomas Hodgskin:
- Author: An Essay on Naval Discipline
- Author: A Lecture on Free Trade, in connexion with the Corn Laws
- Author: The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted
- Author: Popular Political Economy. Four lectures delivered at the London Mechanics Institution
- Author: Travels in the North of Germany, 2 vols.