Portrait of Thomas Hodgskin

Thomas Hodgskin

1787 – 1869

Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869) was an officer in the British Navy before leaving because of his opposition to the brutal treatment of sailors. He worked for the free trade magazine The Economist and wrote and lectured on laissez-faire economic ideas to working men’s institutes.

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He was one of the earliest popularizers of economics for audiences of non-economists and gave lectures on free trade, the corn laws, and labor even before Jane Haldimand Marcet. Hodgskin passionately cared about the concerns of laborers after his experience with the maltreatment of sailors. His discussions of the labor theory of value followed up on David Ricardo and pre-dated John Stuart Mill’s expositions on similar themes. He was later cited by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in Marx’s Capital. He is commonly, though incorrectly, referred to as a Ricardian socialist.

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