Sunday, April 29, 2007

Now war means seizing here and there the bread the tender Father would deny to none

I have an interest in both physiocracy and the distribution of income and wealth in the United States.

A vignette from Marguerite Kuczynski, co-editor (with Ronald Meek) of Quesnay's Tableau Economique surprised me. She rediscovered a copy of the "third edition" in the Du Pont library in the United States. Why would a manuscript from an eighteenth century French school of economics be in a twentieth century U.S. private library, that is the Eleutherian Mills Historical Library?

DuPont de Nemours was not only a great promoter of Quesnay and his ideas. He also founded the American chemical company. Apparently the company and other family businesses made his descendants wealth beyond the ken of most mortals. Here we are two centuries later, and, as I understand it, family members still live off their ancestors in the lap of luxury.

I had understood this connection when the mentally disturbed John E. Du Pont made the news for murder. Another appearance of the family name is in DuPont Circle, in Washington, D.C., named after a Civil War admiral.

I find the discovery of old books amazing, whether they are the Gnostic gospels, a version of the Morte d'Arthur that Caxton had not edited, various of Ricardo's manuscripts and his letters to James Mill, or an edition of the Tableau.

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