Front Page Titles (by Subject) 52.: Letter to Richard Cobden - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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52.: Letter to Richard Cobden - Frédéric Bastiat, The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics 
The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics, translated from the French by Jane and Michel Willems, with an introduction by Jacques de Guenin and Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean. Annotations and Glossaries by Jacques de Guenin, Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean, and David M. Hart. Translation editor Dennis O’Keeffe (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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Letter to Richard Cobden
Bordeaux, February 1846
[vol. 1, p. 124]
My dear sir, you will doubtless be interested to learn that a demonstration is taking place in Bordeaux in favor of free trade. The association has now been constituted. The mayor of Bordeaux has been appointed its president. Before long, the subscription list will be opened and we hope that this will produce about a hundred thousand francs. This is a fine result. I dare not hold out a great deal of hope and fear that our somewhat timid beginnings may raise obstacles for us later. We did not dare set out the principle boldly. We limit ourselves to saying that the association demands the abolition of protectionist dues as quickly as possible. In this way, the question of gradual progress has been retained and your total and immediate could not be passed. In view of people’s lack of intellectual development in this respect, it would have been useless to insist, and it is to be hoped that the association, whose aim is to enlighten others, will have the effect of enlightening itself.
When this matter has been settled, I am determined to go to Paris. I have received several letters, which give me to understand that the huge sector of industry entitled “Articles of Paris”116 is ready to start a movement. I thought that my duty lay in setting aside any personal reasons I had for staying in my corner. I assure you that I am making a sacrifice to the cause whose merit lies in its lack of visibility.
In the last month, my book117 has had an extraordinary success in Bordeaux. The prophetic tone with which I announced the reform has given me a reputation that I scarcely merit, since all I have had to do is be the echo of the League. I am taking advantage of it nevertheless, for advertising purposes. When I am in Paris, I will take advice to see whether it would not be appropriate to produce a second edition in a low-cost format. I am sure that the association in Bordeaux will come to my aid if need be. You would spare me a great deal of work if you would suggest two speeches by MM Bright, Villiers, and others after consulting them. This would avoid my having to reread the three volumes of the League. I need these men to indicate the speeches in which they dealt with the question from the highest and most general point of view, and where they refuted the most universally held fallacies, especially reciprocity. I will add comments, statistical information, and portraits. Lastly, I also need you to indicate a few parliamentary sessions, especially the stormiest ones, in which free traders were attacked the most relentlessly. A work like this, sold for three francs,118 will do more than ten treatises on economics. You cannot imagine the good that the first edition did in Bordeaux.
I cannot help deploring the fact that your prime minister let slip the opportunity of arousing astonishment in Europe. If, instead of saying, “I need new subsidies to increase our army and navy forces,” he had said, “Since we are adopting the principle of free trade, there can no longer be any question of outlets and colonies. We will give up Oregon119 and even perhaps Canada. Our disputes with the United States will disappear and I am proposing that we reduce our army and navy.” If he had said this, the effect would have been as great a difference between this speech and the treatises on economics, which we are still reduced to producing, as between the sun and treatises on light. Europe would have been converted within a year and England would have won on three fronts. I will not list them as I am overcome by tiredness.
[116 ]See Letter 47, note 105.
[117 ]Cobden and the League.
[118 ]The sale price of Cobden and the League was 7.5 francs; Economic Sophisms was 4 francs.
[119 ]In 1818, under the “Indivision Treaty,” in Oregon, British and American citizens had the same hunting, fishing, navigation, and circulation rights. The treaty was renewed in 1827 and canceled in 1846.