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An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

First published in 1776, the year in which the American Revolution officially began, Smith’s Wealth of Nations sparked a revolution of its own. In it Smith analyzes the major elements of political economy, from market pricing and the division of labor to monetary, tax, trade, and other government policies that affect economic behavior. Throughout he offers seminal arguments for free trade, free markets, and limited government.

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The Role of Authority

Peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice... These are the aims of Smith's ideal government. Our society needs a state, and Smith offers meaningful guidance on how to evaluate its role.

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The Invisible Hand

The invisible hand is one of Smith's most well-known turns of phrase, yet he uses it but once in each book. So what does it mean, and why does this concept remain important today?

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Division of Labor

Smith's discussions of the division of labor, while they might seem like common sense today, were radical in his time. Find out more, and consider its enduring relevance today.

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The Free Market

"Man is an animal that bargains," said Smith. Our commercial interactions help us further our individual interests and civilize us at the same time. How is the free market necessary for Smith's "system of natural liberty?"

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