Front Page Titles (by Subject) Smith, America, and Utilitarianism - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1979, vol. 2, No. 4
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Smith, America, and Utilitarianism - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, October/December 1979, vol. 2, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Smith, America, and Utilitarianism
“Adam Smith and the American Revolutionists.” History of Political Economy 11 (January 1979): 179–191.
Adam Smith influenced the principal figures of the American Revolution in two respects in which they appear to deviate from classical economics. The first of these was the contention that the power of a nation was more important than its economic prosperity. The second was the utilitarian point that freedom was a means to other desirable ends. Smith's advocacy of both of these points gives strong reason to think that the American revolutionists did not depart from the classical tradition.
Smith did not believe in unlimited free trade, and in The Wealth of Nations supported the navigation Acts. His defense of free trade was predicated upon the assumption that this policy was the best means to encourage the accumulation of capital domestically, which he regarded as a praiseworthy end. Even the most noted defender of free trade among the supporters of classical economics, Richard Cobden, at one point opposed allowing Russia to float a loan in England. He stated that a free trade policy should not be used to cut one's throat. Similarly, the American revolutionaries did not believe in unlimited free trade. Hamilton's advocacy of protection is probably the most notable instance of this trend. Even Thomas Paine, once a supporter of absolutely free trade, had by 1800 come to recognize that exceptions were justifiable for the purposes of defense.
Most of the American revolutionists saw freedom in utilitarian terms, as a means to an end, rather than as an absolute principle to be pursued in its own right. Jefferson is the most important example of this approach, which was also advocated by Smith and David Hume. Jefferson believed that the task of government was to promote character, which could best be done by encouraging the growth of self-sufficient agricultural communities. While it may seem strange to treat this anti-free trade position as one deriving in part from Smith, in its utilitarian analysis of the task of government it did just that.