Establishing commercial freedom means establishing universal peace at the same time.

Richard Cobden, translated by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 81 to 91 (in French)
Manchester, October 1842

Here is the first speech of Richard Cobden translated by Frédéric Bastiat for his book Cobden and the League. It was pronounced at a meeting in Manchester in October 1842. Unfortunately, I could not find the original English version online so I am linking the French translation only – if anybody knows where the original speech can be found, please let me know and I shall amend the link.

In this speech reminding the policies of the League, the first part exposes a number of mistakes about the sources of some economic difficulties of the time. Richard Cobden even defends Robert Peel against his own supporters who, through misunderstandings on economics, ascribe their sufferings to the liberal reforms that started to be implemented. He also exposes the inconsistency of the protectionists who demand tariffs in England but complain about the Americans doing the same thing. If there were consistent, “they should recognise that this policy, which is good for us, is good for others”.

I note down today’s quote because, according to me, it reflects the essence of liberalism for Frédéric Bastiat who was convinced that the noblest aspect of the cause was to be an engine for  peace. We can see here that he was not the only one to think so and that Richard Cobden shared his point of view.

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