The Great World 's General Population

896 WordsOct 20, 20154 Pages
The Western world’s general population entered the eighteenth century exhausted from mercantilist wealth hoarding and struggles for power among the world’s elite. Lower class life in the Western seventeenth century seemed perpetual and unsolvable, but the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries would bring unprecedented economic and social improvement to these lower classes. Events such as the publishing of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, Watt’s “perfection” of the steam engine, and England’s abolition of the slave trade created an environment that allowed such massive change. With the working classes seeking aid against the massive hoarding of wealth due to seventeenth century mercantilism, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations can be understood as the answer for which they were searching. Released in 1776, Smith’s magnum opus offered a scathing critique of the mercantilist system along with a prescription that claimed to expand wealth throughout all classes. Smith argued that a nation’s wealth was dependent not on precious metals as seen by the mercantilists, but rather “consisted of both farm output and manufactured goods along with the labor it took to produce them.” According to Smith, a nation’s wealth can only increase through increases in economic production, which depends on specialization and the division of labor. As production increases so does supply, thus lowering prices of goods and increasing the purchasing power for all individuals. Smith contended that

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