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What Is Free Trade? An Adaptation of Frederic Bastiat's "Sophismes Éconimiques" Designed for the American Reader   By: (1801-1850)

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In "What Is Free Trade?", adapted by Frédéric Bastiat, the essence of free trade is distilled and presented to the American reader in a clear and concise manner. Drawing from Bastiat's original work "Sophismes Économiques," this adaptation serves as an essential guide for anyone seeking to understand the principles and benefits of free trade.

From the very beginning, the author sets the stage by explaining the importance of economic freedom and how it is closely intertwined with individual liberty. The book highlights the detrimental effects of protectionism, dispelling common misconceptions and fallacies that have often clouded the debate surrounding trade policies.

One of the book's strengths is its accessibility, as Bastiat's complex ideas are presented in a manner that can be easily grasped by readers unfamiliar with the subject. This adaptation does an excellent job of simplifying and elucidating the economic concepts, making it suitable for a wide range of audiences, including students, policymakers, and general readers interested in understanding the foundations of free trade.

Furthermore, the book's organization and structure contribute to its overall effectiveness. Each chapter focuses on a specific aspect of free trade, gradually building upon previous concepts to create a well-rounded understanding. The author employs a logical progression of ideas, ensuring that readers grasp the core principles and their implications before delving into more complex topics.

What sets this adaptation apart is Bastiat's ability to address concerns raised by critics of free trade, offering insightful responses and debunking commonly-held myths. By anticipating counterarguments, the author ensures a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter while equipping readers with the tools to engage in informed discussions and debates.

While the book effectively presents the case for free trade, it also acknowledges its limitations in various contexts. This balance adds credibility to the author's arguments, showcasing a nuanced approach that is often lacking in discussions around trade policies. By emphasizing the importance of understanding the specifics of each situation, Bastiat's adaptation encourages readers to adopt critical thinking and evidence-based decision-making.

In conclusion, "What Is Free Trade?" is a remarkable adaptation of Frederic Bastiat's original work, making the subject accessible and engaging for the American reader. Frédéric Bastiat's insights on free trade continue to resonate, and this adaptation serves as an essential resource in understanding the benefits and principles of free trade. Whether one is new to the topic or seeking a comprehensive refresher, this book is sure to enlighten and challenge readers' perspectives on economic policy and individual liberty.

First Page:

Note: Images of the original pages are available through the Making of America Collection of the University of Michigan Library. See


An Adaptation of Frederick Bastiat's "Sophismes Économiques" Designed for the American Reader



New York: G. P. Putnam & Son, 661 Broadway

The New York Printing Company, 81, 83, And 85 Centre Street, New York



CHAPTER I. Plenty and Scarcity

CHAPTER II. Obstacles to Wealth and Causes of Wealth

CHAPTER III. Effort Result

CHAPTER IV. Equalizing of the Facilities of Production

CHAPTER V. Our Productions are Overloaded with Internal Taxes

CHAPTER VI. Balance of Trade


CHAPTER VIII. Discriminating Duties

CHAPTER IX. A Wonderful Discovery

CHAPTER X. Reciprocity

CHAPTER XI. Absolute Prices

CHAPTER XII. Does Protection raise the Rate of Wages?

CHAPTER XIII. Theory and Practice

CHAPTER XIV. Conflict of Principles

CHAPTER XV. Reciprocity Again

CHAPTER XVI. Obstructed Rivers plead for the Prohibitionists

CHAPTER XVII. A Negative Railroad

CHAPTER XVIII... Continue reading book >>

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