This essay challenges the paradigm that depicts Whigs as progressive champions of free-market economics doing battle against the land-based and regressive economic policies of the Tories. Particularly in the period after the Glorious Revolution, Tory economic writers such as Charles Davenant, Nicholas Barbon, and Sir Dudley North argued for free trade and the relaxation of government tariffs, particularly as exercised against luxuries imported by the East India Company. Whig economic writers such as John Locke, John Pollexfen, Sir Francis Brewster, and John Cary continued, on the contrary, to equate wealth with the accumulation of bullion, arguing that England must curtail the import of luxuries in order to protect domestic manufacture. This debate reached its climax during the controversy over the commercial pact attached to the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). Tories argued for free trade in their journal the Mercantor while Whigs continued to urge for protection against imports in the British Merchant. A revised understanding of the economic policies of Tories and Whigs should lead to a reinterpretation of poems such as Alexander Pope's Windsor-Forest (1713) as well as to a reconsideration of the economic debate between Whigs and Tories after 1714.
Skip Nav Destination
Nicholas Hudson; Challenging the Historical Paradigm: Tories, Whigs, and Economic Writing, 1680–1714. Eighteenth-Century Life 1 September 2016; 40 (3): 68–88. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00982601-3629360
Download citation file: