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Initially published in History of Economic Ideas, 1996, volume 4, issue 1/2, pages 253-269. Appendix entitled "Adam Smith and the Late Resolution of the Quakers of Pennsylvania: A Response to a false report by Robert W. Dimand" also included.

© 1996 Fabrizio Serra editore


Smith was against slavery on moral and economic grounds. The "invisible hand" in societies which allow slavery, operates in such a way that increases in the wealth of the rich, leads to increased misery for the poor free citizens as well as for the slaves themselves. It seems that the beneficial workings of the "invisible hand" are dependent upon commercial societies which arc not based upon the institution of slavery.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.