The Wealth & Well-being of Nations
Exploring the relationship between the wealth and well-being of nations, three distinguished authors will be speaking about their books on economics and ethics, Britain and America, in conversation with Sally Magnusson, a leading broadcaster with the BBC.
2pm – Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life by Nicholas Phillipson
The great eighteenth-century British economist Adam Smith (1723–90) is celebrated as the founder of modern economics. Yet Smith saw himself primarily as a philosopher rather than an economist and would never have predicted that the ideas for which he is now best known were his most important. This biography shows the extent to which Smith’s great works, The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments, were part of one of the most ambitious projects of the European Enlightenment, a grand “Science of Man” that would encompass law, history, and aesthetics as well as economics and ethics, and which was only half complete on Smith’s death in 1790.
3.15pm – Francis Jeffrey’s American Journal by Andrew Hook
Francis Jeffrey is celebrated as the editor of the Edinburgh Review, but little is known of his remarkable visit to America and his enthusiastic reception by American readers. Elliott and Hook have produced a marvellous edition of Jeffrey’s record of his journey between New York and Washington during the War of 1812. American readers today will be fascinated by Jeffrey’s account of his discussion of British-American differences with President James Madison and Secretary of State James Monroe, which furnish remarkable first hand accounts of these men’s beliefs about the nature of the conflict. They will be intrigued by the romantic sensibilities evident in Jeffrey’s descriptions of the American environment. This is an excellent edition of Jeffrey’s engaging account of the new American republic.
4.30pm – A Floating Commonwealth by Christopher Harvie
Christopher Harvie offers a new portrait of society and identity in high industrial Britain by focusing on the sea as connector, not barrier. Atlantic and ‘inland sea’ together, Harvie argues, created a ‘floating commonwealth’ of port cities and their hinterlands whose interaction, both with one another and with nationalist and imperial politics, created an intense political and cultural synergy. At a technical level, this produced the freight steamer and the efficient types of railways which opened up the developing world, as well as the institutions of international finance and communications in the age of ‘telegrams and anger’. And ultimately, the resources of the Atlantic cities, their shipyards and works, enabled Britain to win and withstand the test of the First World War.