Classic book describing the workings of the banking industry in London, with particular emphasis on the emerging concept of a Central Bank. This book influenced the subsequent structure and behavior of the Federal Reserve System and other national Central Banks.
Between 1834 and 1837, a youthful William Leggett switched from writing mediocre poetry to writing impassioned editorials in support of individual liberties and private property rights. Beginning at the Evening Post, and continuing on by founding the Plaindealer, Leggett found a ready audience for his frank essays. He wrote extensively against monopolies, against government control, against slavery, and in favor of free trade. His keen journalism influenced the exciting economic developments of the second Jackson administration, developments that shape U.S. policies to this day.
Leggett's writings on the banking industry and its relationship with the government constituted a major theme. Lawrence H. White has collected together Leggett's best pieces on the topic (see Part II), from the pros and cons of chartering of the Bank of the United States, to the gold standard versus paper money. White's helpful Foreword and many editorial footnotes place Leggett's writings and references in historical context.
On Leggett's untimely death from ongoing illness, his good friend and co-editor William Cullen Bryant penned this resounding verse:
IN MEMORY OF WILLIAM LEGGETT
The earth may ring, from shore to shore,
With echoes of a glorious name,
But he, whose loss our tears deplore,
Has left behind him more than fame.
For when the death-frost came to lie
On Leggett's warm and mighty heart,
And quench his bold and friendly eye,
His spirit did not all depart.
The words of fire that from his pen
Were flung upon the fervid page,
Still move, still shake the hearts of men,
Amid a cold and coward age.
His love of truth, too warm, too strong
For Hope or Fear to chain or chill,
His hate of tyranny and wrong,
Burn in the breasts he kindled still.
—William Cullen Bryant, 1839
Mill, John Stuart, Principles of Political Economy, specifically Book III, Chapters VII-XXIV: Of Money, etc. For additional chapter titles, see the Table of Contents.
The cuneiform inscription in the Liberty Fund logo is the earliest-known written appearance of the word "freedom" (amagi), or "liberty." It is taken from a clay document written about 2300 B.C. in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash.