In yesterday’s discussion of colonies, #AdamSmith was really good on a lot of issues—particularly on condemning murdering Indigenous people, despoiling colonies in search of gold that ain't there, and then pretending you're doing it all for God. #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Today, Smithketeers, will not be such a feel-good day. You will not be heartened. You might want to pour a cup of tea. Or something much stronger. #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith starts by noting that the colonies of developed nations where the “natives easily give place to the new settlers” get rich and cultured faster than anywhere else.

That phrase “give place to” cloaks a lot of horrors. (IV.vii.b.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
The reason colonies can do so well (for everyone but the Indigenous peoples, that is) is that settlers import the social, political, and technical know-how from the old country. (IV.vii.b.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
There’s lots of land, which means you need lots of workers and are willing to pay them high wages.
Workers + land + money ➡ kids!
And more people ➡ prosperity. (IV.vii.b.2–3) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
You know what else is great for economic growth? Being very far away from the old country. Land gives scope to grow and prosper, but distance gives independence. (IV.vii.b.6) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
[It’s probably some kind of wacky coincidence that Smith is publishing stuff like this in 1776. It’s not like independence and colonies were hot topics or anything. <Waving to our friends in the Mother Country @iealondon>] (IV.vii.b.4) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Spanish colonies were flashy successes at first because of all the plundering.
Other European colonies were less immediately splendid. Being less immediately splendid helped with the independence. (IV.vii.b.7) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith finds himself in the awkward position of approving of the progress the colonies have made in spite of his opposition to the "cruel destruction of the natives". (IV.vii.b.7) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
It takes a minute—#AdamSmith gonna Adam Smith—but he gets to the real point of this section: No colonies have made more rapid progress than the English colonies in North America. (IV.vii.b.7–15) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Why are the English colonies in North America doing so well? Land and liberty, y'all! (IV.vii.b.16) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
English colonies have good institutions, like minimal engrossing of land, minimal or no primogeniture, moderate taxes, and a wide market for their goods. All those things help them flourish. (IV.vii.b.17–21) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
A quick word on taxes, because our @collegeboard #APUSH exams didn’t prep us for this. Smith says colonies are expensive, and the English colonists have never contributed to the defense of England or to the support of its government. (IV.vii.b.20) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith also says that tithes are unknown in the colonies and that their clergy are supported by small stipends or by voluntary contributions. (IV.vii.b.20) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
(He’s probably right. He *is* #AdamSmith. But we, the SmithTweeters, had to recalibrate our thinking here for a bit.) (IV.vii.b.20) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Know what else is great for prosperity? Not being under the control of the East India Company. Unlike other colonies, American colonies could directly export many commodities: grain, lumber, salted provisions, fish, sugar, rum, etc. (IV.vii.b.22–31) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
And sugar and rum take us to the triangular trade, which Smith passes over in one sentence. 😑 You can learn more about it here. (IV.vii.b.32) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets…
Smith provides (as Smith does) a long list of commodities the colonists were forced to send to England rather than trade freely. The goal was to keep the prices down so English merchants could profit. (IV.vii.b.34–36) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Colonists were allowed to trade freely in raw materials but as soon as anything was manufactured, even for use *in the colonies*, things got dodgy. Like. Hats had to be bought from England. (IV.vii.b.42) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Wool (the English are very. protective. of. their. wool. industry) can only be processed at home, not in mills. (IV.vii.b.42) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
These restrictions, says Smith, are an unjust violation of the most sacred rights of mankind.

Like. Sure. But MAN. He couldn't have said that about the triangular trade?! Especially since he compares these restrictions to slavery. (IV.vii.b.44) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
We just...we wish he’d done better. Even though we know he’s already doing better than the vast majority of 18th-century thinkers. (IV.vii.b.44) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
In general, Smith says, the policies of Great Britain towards its colonies are less repressive than most. #LowBar
Politically, they're independent: local legislatures, representative government, non-tyrannical executives. (IV.vii.b.50–51) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Now Smith is going to talk about the sugar colonies and about slavery.
Smith does not like slavery. He’s opposed for moral and economic reasons.
But he does need to analyze it. (IV.vii.b.54) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Sugar cultivation is carried on by slaves in all the European colonies. This may be because the work is so punishingly hard. But the profit and success of these colonies depend on the good treatment of the slaves. (IV.vii.b.54) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
[As much, that is, as it is possible to say that any enslaved being is “treated well.” He DOES call slavery an “unfortunate law”...but again. We wanted more.] (IV.vii.b.54) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
French planters generally treat their slaves better than English planters do because their government keeps a closer eye on them.
English planters, having more liberty, used it to be awful. (IV.vii.b.54) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Free governments are bad for slaves in two ways. First, free governments depend on the support of the people. Including slave owners (who tend to be wealthy and powerful). This makes it hard to pass laws to protect slaves. (IV.vii.b.54) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Second, governments can only protect slaves by arbitrarily interfering with the "property" of enslavers.

On both counts, this is where the focus on freedom in the English colonies is a bad thing. (IV.vii.b.54–55) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith's verdict? The policy of Europe “has very little to boast of” in the establishment, government, or prosperity of its colonies.
They were begun in folly and injustice and led to the destruction of harmless peoples. (IV.vii.b.58–59) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Even in colonies that weren’t established for greed and conquest, it was "the disorder and injustice of the European governments, which peopled and cultivated America."

No points awarded for war and persecution. #Good (IV.vii.b.61–62) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Even the best of Mother Countries has done almost nothing to aid their colonies’ success. The most they’ve been able to do is provide the people and the institutions they bring with them. (IV.vii.b.64) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
So we’d like to have had some ringing abolitionist rhetoric from Smith here, but that’s not his project in this work. He IS making a solid case that colonies aren’t good for ANYONE, really. We’ll take it for what it’s worth. More tomorrow! #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

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More from @adamsmithworks

17 Feb
It's been a whole day since we tweeted Part 2 of this chapter, so let us remind you: #AdamSmith just said that the colonies got nothing that helped them succeed from the mother country. (IV.vii.c) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
So these two opening sentences are pretty heckin’ sarcastic:
Now we've seen the great advantages the colonies got (they got nothing!) (IV.vii.c.1)
So what have been the great advantages to Europe! (IV.vii.c.2)

Seems like there’s a...tone there. #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Europeans buy goods from America, and Americans buy European goods as well. Even countries that don’t trade directly with America have benefited. (IV.vii.c.3–8) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 28 tweets
15 Feb
OK. Chapter 7 of Book 4 of #WealthOfNations is tough going. It's long. It's serious. It's all about colonies.

We can take comfort, though, in knowing that the chapter #AdamSmith says is about colonies is, in fact, about colonies. (IV.vii) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Colonies were a vexed subject when #AdamSmith was writing, and they’re even more complicated now. So, before we even get to the tweeting, here’s a link to that thread on Smith and “savage nations.” (IV.vii) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

The reason for the ancient Greeks and Romans to settle colonies was straightforward: they didn’t have enough space for their growing populations. Their colonies were treated as “emancipated children”—connected but independent. (IV.vii.a.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 21 tweets
14 Feb
Dear Smithketeers. Over many chapters of #WealthOfNations, we've grown close. We were even going to ask all of you to be our Valentines.
And we have to tell you:

The title of Book IV Chapter 6, "Of Treaties of Commerce", is a lie. (IV .vi) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
More like, "Of the reasons the Author is opposed to Treaties generally and the Treaty with Portugal in particular." (IV .vi) #WealthOfTweets
But FINE. Here we go:

Countries that bind themselves via a treaty to offer special treatment to the merchants and manufacturers of another country are granting them a sort of monopoly over their market. (IV. vi.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 22 tweets
13 Feb
#AdamSmith, #WealthOfNations, and #CornLaws!
What more could you possibly want on a Saturday morning? (IV.v.b) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Yes, it’s the Digression Concerning the Corn Trade and Corn Laws! We can barely contain ourselves long enough to remind you that “corn” doesn’t mean 🌽 It means the principal cereal crop of a nation. (We keep saying so because we keep forgetting.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
#TLDR on #AdamSmith’s thoughts on the Corn Laws:

They’re bad. (IV.v.b.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 29 tweets
12 Feb
We're back with more thoughts of #AdamSmith about the tools of mercantilism. Today: Bounties! (IV.v.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Today we'd call bounties subsidies, which makes it much harder to use a Boba Fett gif.

So we're sticking with bounties. (IV.v.a.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Everyone admits, says Smith, that bounties shouldn't be given to industries or endeavors that could happen without them. But that means you're only going to give them to endeavors that can't pay for themselves. (IV.v.a.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 20 tweets
11 Feb
#AdamSmith has spent a few days talking about why the mercantile system is not a great idea in general, but today he starts to get into specifics by talking about the policies through which it's implemented. We begin today with...drawbacks! (IV.iv.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Merchants and manufacturers are not, of course, content only to have a monopoly over the home market. They also want an advantage in foreign markets.

Also: we're calling them M&Ms now. (IV.iv.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
M&Ms don't hold sway over foreign governments, so they've gotta settle for getting their home government to pay them to send goods abroad.
Read 13 tweets

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