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Political Economy Club

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Title: Political Economy Club  
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Subject: Royal Economic Society, History of economic thought, Economic history of the United Kingdom, Political economy, Scottish Enlightenment
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Political Economy Club

The Political Economy Club was founded by James Mill[1] and a circle of friends in 1821 in London, for the purpose of coming to an agreement on the fundamental principles of political economy. David Ricardo, James Mill, Thomas Malthus (the only one holding an academic post at the time), and Robert Torrens were among the original luminaries.[2]

In the early 19th century there were no academic societies or professional associations for economists. The Political Economy Club was a way to establish a scientific community, test ideas, and provide peer review for their work.[3]


The participants soon found substantial difficulties in formulating and reaching agreement on their fundamental propositions. Ricardo felt that none of their views was safe from criticism. Reflecting on their theoretical discussions in 1823, Ricardo privately expressed his famous opinion about the "non-existence of any measure of absolute value."[4]


William Blake, and Jean-Baptiste Say.

Later: Edwin Chadwick, Sir Robert Giffen, Charles Buller, and Sir William Clay.

Significant elections after 1840 include William Ewart Gladstone, and W. E. Forster.[6]

Current meetings

Some current members of the society are David Willetts, Peter Jay, Charles Dumas, Adam Ridley and Tim Congdon. The Club now meets on a monthly basis in the Royal Automobile Club to hear papers presented by members of the club and a discussion over dinner.


  1. ^ James Mill, 1773-1836
  2. ^ Elie Halévy, The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism, tr. Mary Morris. Boston, Beacon Press, 1955, p. 343.
  3. ^ D. P. O'Brien, The Classical Economists Revisited. Princeton University Press, 2004.
  4. ^ Ricardo to Malthus, August 15, 1823. Quoted by Halevy, Ibid., p. 352.
  5. ^ Gary R. Evans, Humanities 2 "Classics of Economic Thought"
  6. ^ D. P. O'Brien, The Classical Economists Revisited. Princeton University Press, 2004.



  • J. R. McCulloch, Early English Tracts on Commerce. London: Political Economy Club (1856); Cambridge University Press, 1954.
  • Political Economy Club, Revised Report of the Proceedings at the Dinner of 31 May 1876, Held in Celebration of the Hundredth Year of the Publication of the “Wealth of Nations” (London: Longmans, Green, Reader & Dyer (1876).
  • Political Economy Club : founded in London, 1821 : minutes of proceedings, 1899–1920, roll of members and questions discussed, 1821-1920 with documents bearing on the history of the club. Macmillan and Co., (1921)
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