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McCULLOCH, John Ramsay.

The Principles of Political Economy:

with a Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Science.

Edinburgh: Printed for William Tait, and for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green in London, and W. Curry and Co. in Dublin, 1830 Stock Code: 129374
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Presentation copy

Second edition, corrected and enlarged, first published in 1825. Presentation copy to the future Prime Minister Robert Peel (1788-1850), inscribed on the front free endpaper "The Right Hon Sir Robert Peel M.P from the author", with Peel's bookplate to front pastedown. McCulloch was an admirer of Peel's reforms, and later editions of the book praised him for enhancing free trade: "The principles of free trade are no longer viewed as barren and unprofitable speculationsas the visions of theorists dreaming in their closets of public happiness never to be realized. They have been sanctioned by the people and parliament of England. Sir Robert Peel was in practice what Adam Smith was in theory. The former vindicated in the senate, and embodied in acts of parliament, those great principles which the latter established in his study" (5th edition, 1864, pp. 115-116). In turn, Peel admired McCulloch: though he "had crucially failed in 1825 to support the claim for a separate chair of political economy in Edinburgh, he was frankly impressed in the 1830s by McCulloch's views on public finance, and in 1846 he was to acknowledge his services to the science of political economy by getting him an annual state pension of 200" (ODNB).

The Principles of Political Economy was the author's first major work, expanded from his contribution to the 1824 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "the first substantive text on political economy to appear in the encyclopaedia" (ODNB). David Ricardo, with whom McCulloch corresponded since he started taking an interest in political economy as a young man, described the article as a "valuable historical sketch" and "clear exposition of all the important principles of the science that you have left nothing for me to wish for" (P. Sraffa and M. H. Dobb (eds.), The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, 1951-73, Vol. 9, p. 275). The Principles of Economy enjoyed a wave of popularity soon after publication and went through five editions but was supplanted in the late 1840s by John Stuart Mill's work of the same title. McCulloch's discussion on profit and interest with regards to ageing a cask of wine is still used today to illustrate the labour theory of value.

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Octavo (214 x 130 mm). Contemporary calf, spine gilt to compartments with red morocco label, gilt and blind rules to covers, grey endpapers, marbled sides.


Light rubbing around extremities, very minor foxing to initial and final few leaves. A very good copy.


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