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Economic history is a fascinating way to discover how commerce and trade has evolved from the past conditions to the present. The following web sites are good resources for studying economic history in the 18th century. First, let me define the main economic system of the Eighteenth century.

Mercantilism is a trade and monetary system by which the government controls all aspects of doing business. Governments implemented policies geared towards increasing the intake of money and maintaining a favorable balance of trade with the rest of the world. These policies would also include regulations in the agricultural and manufacturing industries of the nation. These policies would in effect set up and sanction a monopoly on foreign trade.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Mercantilism as, "an economic system developing during the decay of feudalism to unify and increase the power and especially the monetary wealth of a nation by a strict governmental regulation of the entire national economy usually through policies designed to secure an accumulation of bullion, a favorable balance of trade, the development of agriculture and manufactures, and the establishment of foreign trading monopolies."

The great economist of the 18th Century, Adam Smith would give this economic system much weight throughout Europe when he wrote his Classic work,  An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations.   

Web Sites

Here are some interesting websites that you can look at for finding out more about the economics of the 18th century.These are just a few sites on economic history. There are more sites located in the Economic Resource section of this site.

  • Read what the European Enlightenment Glossary has to say on the Physiocrats, the first scientific school of economics that was invented by a group of French Enlightenment philosophers.
  • The main resource for economic historians is the Economic History Services Web site. It contains a link directory to Professional Organizations, Academic Journals (none of which are on line), Web sites for Colleges and Academic Departments, Individual Pages, Museums, Institutes, and Archives and other sites of interest to economic historians.
  • Another resource of economic history would be the A Comparative Chronology of Money website. This site, based on the Book A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies, rev. ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996, is a timline of events that pertain to economics.
  • To learn about American Colonial currency, visit the Leslie Brock Center for the Study of Colonial Currency website. It is very comprehensive in this area of economic history, with essays and resources on the subject.

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