A Chronology of Bastiat’s Life and Work (1801-1850)

[Revised: 25 June, 2017]

Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)
Map of Les Landes in SW France


This Chronology of the life of Frédéric Bastiat is part of Liberty Fund's translation project of his Collected Works and is periodically updated. Where possible, works mentioned in the Chronology are linked to the online version. For more information see:

About Bastiat:

By Bastiat:

The Chronology of Bastiat's Life


  • Born, Claude Frédéric Bastiat, in Bayonne, 30 June.
  • Grandfather establishes a trading business with his son Pierre and nephew Henri Monclar.


  • Death of mother, 27 May.
  • Trading business in Spain suffers difficulties.
  • Moves to Mugron with father, grandfather, and Aunt Justine.


  • Death of father, 1 July.
  • Closing of the Bastiat-Monclar trading business.


  • Attends school run by the Abbot Meilhan in Bayonne.


  • Attends College of Saint-Sever for one year.


  • Attends an international private school at the Abbey of Sorèze. Does not graduate. Forms a close friendship with Victor Calmètes.

[Images: The grain market in Bayonne, Place Bastiat in Mugron, the private school at the old Abbey of Sorèze]


  • Works in Bayonne for his Uncle Monclar and assists his grandfather in running a farm at Souprosse in Les Landes (estate called "Sengresse").
  • Joins a Masonic lodge, La Zélée. Becomes a garde des sceaux in 1822 and an orateur in 1823.
  • Participates in a demonstration of young liberals in support of Jacques Laffite, September 1824.
  • Gives lectures on literary, religious, philosophical, and economic topics.


  • Death of grandfather, 13 August. Inherits part of his estate. Attempts unsuccessfully to modernize the practices of his tenants on his estate.
  • Expresses a desire to write on the protectionist system in France, 12 March 1829.


  • Participates in protests in Bayonne in favor of the new regime (the July Monarchy of Louis-Philippe), 3–5 August. Visits Bayonne garrison and successfully persuades the officers to support the revolution, 5 August.
  • Writes a pamphlet "To the Electors of the Département of Les Landes" supporting Faure's candidature for election, November. First long piece on political matters, expresses desire to see size of government strictly limited.


  • Marries Marie Clotilde Hiart, 7 February. Separates soon after; uses her dowry to expand his estate.
  • Appointed justice of the peace in the canton of Mugron, 28 May.
  • Unsuccessfully stands for election to the legislature of the arrondissement of Dax, 6 July.


  • Unsuccessfully stands for election to the legislature in the arrondissement of Saint-Sever, 11 July.


  • Elected to the General Council of the Landes, 17 November.

[Images: Bastiat's family home "Sengresse" near Mugron, a landowner inspecting his tenants in Les Landes, the Citadelle in Bayonne, river traffic on the Adour river at Dax]



  • Publishes five articles on a proposed canal next to the Adour River.[draft version]



  • Reelected to the General Council of Les Landes, 24 November.


  • Travels to Spain and Portugal to explore setting up an insurance business.


  • Has plans to create an "Association for the Defense of Wine Producers" [draft version] and a journal to be called Le Midi (these do not come to fruition).
  • Publishes "The Tax Authorities and Wine" which is his first major piece on taxation, January.


  • Unsuccessfully stands for election to the legislature in the arrondissement of Saint-Sever, 9 July.


[Images: the port of Bordeaux c. 1850, the Hôtel du ville of Mont de Marsan, map of Basques dialects]



  • Writes a paper on the burden of the land tax in Les Landes for the General Council [draft]
  • Publishes his first major essay in the JDE: "On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two Peoples," October. [in CW6, forthcoming]
  • Begins corresponding with Richard Cobden, 24 November. Tells him he would like to start his own free-trade association in France.


  • Writes second article for JDE criticising Lamartine in which he presents for the first time many of his original economic ideas, January. [draft]
  • Begins publishing short articles in the JDE which will later become part of his book Economic Sophisms, March. [draft]
  • A dinner is held in his honor by the Political Economy Society to welcome him to Paris, May.
  • Travels to London, where he is met with enthusiasm by members of the Anti–Corn Law League, July.
  • Publishes his first books: Cobden and the League ( June 1845) [in CW6, forthcoming] and Economic Sophisms (First Series) [draft], November.
  • Offered editorship of JDE but turns it down, July.
  • Publication of "Petition by the Manufacturers of Candles" in JDE , October.
  • Joins the Society for Political Economy and begins attending their monthly meetings when in Paris.

[Images: Richard Cobden, Anti-Corn Law League membership card]



  • Elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, 24 January.
  • Cofounder of the Free Trade Association in Bordeaux, 23 February.
  • The National Association for Free Trade is formed in Paris, and Bastiat is made the secretary of the Advisory Board, 10 May. Other Associations are established in Marseilles, Lyon, and Le Havre.
  • Begins writing more theoretical articles for JDE which will later become chapters in EH. "On Competition" (May) [draft], "On Population" (Oct.) [draft].
  • Stands unsuccessfully for election in Saint-Sever, writes Manifesto which explains his views on limited government, 1 July.
  • Dinner in Paris to celebrate political victory of Cobden and the Anti–Corn Law League, at which Bastiat gives one of the Toasts, 18 August.) [in CW6, forthcoming]
  • Speaks at free-trade meetings in Bordeaux (23 February) and Paris (29 September). [in CW6, forthcoming]
  • Appearance of first issue of the weekly journal Le Libre-échange, 29 November.
  • Resigns his position as justice of the peace in Mugron, 30 November.
  • Debates with Lamartine on price controls [draft] and the editors of L'Atelier (socialist) and Le Moniteur industriel (protectionist). [in CW6, forthcoming]
  • Publishes many articles on free trade in a number of journals.

[Images: photo of Paris early 1840s, Alphonse de Lamartine, banner of 1st issue of Le Libre-Échange ]


  • Publication of "The Utopian" in LE, 17 January. [draft]
  • Chamber considers bill to liberalize tariffs and sends it to a committee dominated by protectionists, March to July.
  • Updates the Declaration of Principles of the FFTA, 25 April. [in CW6, forthcoming]
  • Gives major speeches on Free Trade to large public meetings (13 June, 3 July, August in Lyon and Marseilles, September Marseilles) [in CW6, forthcoming]
  • Begins lecturing on political economy at the School of Law in Paris, 3 July.
  • Gives a "Speech on intellectual property" to a group of publishers, 15 December. [draft]
  • Debates throughout the year with protectionists.

[Image: Title page of Economics Sophisms Second Series (Jan. 1848)

1848 (Jan.-May)

  • Publication of Economic Sophisms (Second Series), 5 January. [draft]
  • Gives last major public speech on Free Trade before the February Revolution and the FFTA is wound up, 7 January. [in CW6, forthcoming]
  • Continues to publish theoretical articles in JDE which will become part of EH (15 Jan. "Natural and Artificial Organization" [draft], Sept. "Economic Harmonies I, II, III," [draft], Dec. "Economic Harmonies IV" [draft].)
  • Publication of "The Mayor of Énios" in LE, 6 February. [draft]
  • Gives up the editorship of Le Libre-échange for reasons of health, 13 February.
  • Witnesses rioting in the streets of Paris and the killing of protesters by the army, 23–25 February.
  • Publication of La République française, 26 February. He and his friends hand it out on the streets of Paris. [draft to come]
  • Elected deputy in the Constituent Assembly representing the département of the Landes, 23 April. Appointed vice president of the Finance Committee.
  • Nominated to the Chamber's commission of inquiry into labor, May.
  • Gives first Speech in the Chamber on the Formation of Committees, 13 May [draft]. This is followed by other Speeches on subsidies to the textile industry (9 June) [draft], on on Regulating the Political Clubs (26 July) [draft], Report from the Finance Committee on Government Assistance to the Poor (9-10 Aug.) [draft], on postal reform (24 August) [draft].

[Images: banner of 1st issue of La République française, a barricade on rueSaint-Martin (Feb. 1848), the intrior of the National Assembly]

1848 June-Dec.)

  • Publishes the first of his anti-socialist pamphlets, Property and Law (May), which is followed by Individualism and Fraternity (June), Justice and Fraternity (June), Property and Plunder (July)
  • Publication of Jacques Bonhomme, 11 June. He and his friends hand it out on the streets of Paris. [draft to come]
  • "June Days" uprising sparked by the closure of the National Workshops. Bastiat witnesses violence on the streets, 23–26 June.
  • Votes against trying socialist Louis Blanc for his role in the "June Days" uprising, 26 August.
  • Visits Cobden in England to talk about disarmament, September.
  • Reelected to General Council of Les Landes, September. Votes for new constitution and supports General Cavaignac for president, 4 November.
  • Begins attending the PES monthly meetings more regularly, 10 October. He participates in a discussion on the income tax which he favoured [draft]. He also attended the 10 Dec. meeting where the topic was the emancipation of the colonies which he favoured [draft].

[Images: advertisement for 2nd issue of Jacques Bonhomme (15 June), photo of streets barricades on rue Saint-Maur (June 1848)]


  • Invited to a banquet in Manchester to celebrate the final repeal of the Corn Laws but declines because of poor health and parliamentary duties, 9 January.
  • Gives a speech in the Chamber on free trade and ending restriction on the importation of salt, 11 January [draft]. Other speeches he would give were on amending the electoral law (26 Feb. and 10-13 March) [draft], state confiscation of land for public works (6 Oct.) [draft], the right to form and join unions (16 Nov.) [draft], on free trade and the tax on alcohol (12 Dec.)
  • Publishes the first of several pamphlets on tariffs, taxes, and electoral reform, beginning with Protectionism and Communism (Jan.), Peace and Freedom, or the Republican Budget (Feb.), Parliamentary Conflicts of Interest (March)
  • Publishes first of several essays on money and credit beginning with Capital and Rent (Feb.) [draft], Damned Money! (Apr.) [draft], Capital (July) [draft], Free Credit (Oct. 1849) [draft].
  • Attends a meeting of the PES where the topic is financial reform, 10 February [draft]. Others he attended were on the upcoming Peace Congress (May) [draft], the proper limits to the power of the state (Oct.) [draft], on disarmament (Nov.) [draft], and his theory of rent in EH (Dec.) [draft].
  • Distributes his Election Manifesto to his electorate in Les Landes for reelection to the Chamber, April.
  • Elected deputy in the Legislative Assembly representing the Landes on the "Social Democratic" list, 13 May.
  • FB spends the summer at the Butard hunting lodge outside Paris writing the first volume of EH.
  • Attends Peace Congress in Paris presided over by Victor Hugo and gives a speech on "Disarmament and Taxes," 22– 24 August. [draft]
  • Debate with Proudhon on credit and interest in La Voix du peuple, 22 October. [draft]
  • Attends a Friends of Peace meeting in Bradford, England, 30 October. Also possibly sent on a diplomatic mission after the Peace Congress to sound out Cobden and other MPs about a disarmament treaty between France and Britain
  • Gives lectures on economics to a group of law students, December.

[Images: Butard hunting lodge, the Friends of Peace Congress in Paris, Proudhon]



  • Publication of the 1st ten chapters of Economic Harmonies, January. [in CW5 forthcoming]
  • Meeting of PES with discussion on limits to the power of the state part 2, 10 January [draft]. Part 3 (Feb.) [draft], on land credit (Apr.) [draft], his farewell (Sept.) [draft].
  • Speaks in Chamber opposing the Falloux law on public education, 6 February [draft]. Writes and distributes pamphlet Baccalaureate and Socialism (Feb.) as he has coughing fits and can no longer longer speak.
  • Last participation in Chamber of Deputies, 9 February. Death of wife, 10 February.
  • Completes debate with Proudhon, which is published as Free Credit, 7 March.
  • Publishes pamphlet Plunder and Law, returns to Mugron for rest, May.
  • Stays in the town of Les Eaux-Bonnes in the Pyrénées for the warm springs and to finish writing What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen. Publication of "The Law," June.
  • Publication of WSWNS, July [draft].
  • Attends a last meeting of the Political Economy Society to say farewell to his colleagues, 10 September [draft]. Bastiat is told to spend the winter in Italy by his doctor. Departs for Rome via Marseilles and Pisa.
  • Dies in Rome from a serious throat condition (possibly throat cancer), 24 December.

[Images: title page of the 1st ed. of Economic Harmonies, Les Eaux-Bonnes spa town where FB wrote The Law and WSWNS]

[Images: Bastiat's gravestone in Rome, the memorial to Bastiat erected in Mugron in 1878]