This article considers the question of how and why political economy was accepted at English universities early in the nineteenth century, focusing on George Pryme (1781-1868), the first professor of the subject at Cambridge. The central argument is that he relied heavily upon Dugald Stewart, who had lectured on political economy in Edinburgh. Stewart denied the supposedly radical implications of political economy by insisting that it was a neutral, scientific inquiry. At the same time he preached the gospel of free trade without basing it on economic theory. By modeling his own lectures on Stewart’s, Pryme was able to allay the suspicions that the conservative Heads of Houses at Cambridge had regarding political economy, and to make it a part of the curriculum. He did so, however, at the cost of missing the more recent theoretical developments of Mathus and Ricardo.

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