America & Mr. Smith Viewing Guide Key
Mercantilism: the economic theory that trade generates wealth, and therefore governments should encourage exports and discourage imports, in order to accumulate gold and silver.
- Adam Smith’s ideas flowed through the heart of the American Constitution.
- Smith thought that the Americans were victims of the mercantilist system.
- Adam Smith believed open and free trade was best for Britain and America.
- Adam Smith did not see any way in which the colonies would ever be profitable to Britain.
- In 1776, just months before America’s seething discontent burst into outright rebellion, The Wealth of Nations was published.
- Colonial Americans found Smith very interesting because his books provided a blueprint on how to create a nation.
- Included in the Library of Congress collections is the personal library of Thomas Jefferson, a lifelong admirer of Adam Smith.
- The nature of the Constitution, the nature of the revolution, the whole philosophy of politics as it is in the United States is embedded in that collection.
- Jefferson didn’t just read Smith’s book; he frequently studied it, referenced it, and recommended it to others.
- Both Madison and Smith believed that while human beings are strongly motivated by self-interest, they are also capable of virtue.
- What you see in the Constitution is an attempt to implement and integrate into a governmental plan are some of the ideas Smith had about what could allow for a prosperous society.
- “The sovereign is completely discharged from a duty [for which] no human wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient; the duty of superintending the industry of private people.”
- When faced with the challenge of how to create and structure a new nation, the Founders turned to the Enlightenment and to Adam Smith for guidance.
- Who was Adam Smith? Why was he interested in the American colonies?
- What did Adam Smith think would be the best arrangement between Britain and the colonies?
- Why did Britain need such a large navy back in the 18th century?
- Why did Britain want to control its colonies to monopolize trade?
- Why was The Wealth of Nations widely read in the American colonies, including by many of the Founders?