Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The first edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was published on the 9th of March, 1776, within four months of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was one of those rare occasions when history permits something to happen on a convenient date. For the principles of economics which Adam Smith expounded are an essential element in the structure and growth of American social thought, along with the principles of the Declaration of Independence itself. Their importance and relevance should not be obscured by the irrelevancies of economic fundamentalists, any more than their relevancies of constitutional fundamentalists can be permitted to obscure the relevance of constitutional first principles. The arguments for and against Keynesian economics as applied to budget deficits should not let us forget that Lord Keynes built on Adam Smith, just as the arguments for and against Brown v. Board of Education' should not let us forget that the Brown decision was based on the interpretation of the United States Constitution.