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Jean-Baptiste Say (1767–1832)

Author of A Treatise on Political Economy

Includes the names: J. B. Say, Jean Baptiste Say, Say Jean-Baptiste.

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Short biography
Jean Baptiste Say (1767—1832)

Jean Baptiste Say was an economist and businessman He had Liberal views and argued m favor of competition, free trade, and lifting restraints on business.

He was born 5 January 1767 in Lyon France and his father, Jean-Etienne Etienne Say of Protestant family forced to moved from Nimes to Geneva in consequence of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. One brother, Louis Auguste (1774-1840) was also an economist but Say was intended to follow a commercial career and was sent, with his other brother Horace, to England. Here he lived first in Croydon, in the house of a merchant, to whom he acted as clerk, and afterwards in London, where he was in the service of another employer. When, on the death of the latter, he returned to France, be was employed into office of a life assurance company directed by Etienne Claviere.

Say's first literary attempt was a pamphlet on the liberty press, published in 1789. He later worked under Mirabeau on the Courrier de Provence. In 1792 he took part as a volunteer in the campaign of Champagne; in 1793 he assumed, in conformity with the Revolutionary fashion, the pre-name of Atticus, and became secretary to Claviere, then finance the minister.

In 1793 Say married Mlle Deloche, daughter of a former lawyer. From 1794 to 1800 Say edited a periodical entitled La Decade philosophsque, Iitteraure, et pohnique, in which he expounded the doctrines of Adam Smith. He had by this time established his reputation as a publicist, and, when the consular government was established in 1799.

In 1800 be published in Olbie, ou essai sur les moyens de reformer les moeurs d'une nation. It was in 1803 that Say's principal work appeared, the Traite d'econome politique ou simple exposition de la maniere dont se ferment, se distribuent et se competent lea richesses. In 1804, having shown his unwillingness to sacrifice his convictions for the purpose of furthering the designs of Napoleon, he was removed from the office of tribune. He then turned to industrial pursuits, and, having made himself acquainted with the processes of the cotton manufacture, founded at Auchy, in the Pas de Calais, a spinning-mill which employed four or five hundred persons, principally women and children.

He devoted his leisure to the improvement of his economic treatise, which had for some time been out of print but which the censorship did not permit him to republish.

In 1814 he 'availed himself' of the sort of liberty arising from the entrance of the allied powers into France to bring out a second edition of the work, dedicated to the emperor Alexander I of Russia, who had professed himself his pupil. In to same year the French government sent him to study the economic condition of the United Kingdom. The results of his observations appeared in A tract de l'Angleterre et des Anglais.

A third edition of the Traite appeared in 1817. A chair of industrial economy was founded for him in 1819 at the Coniservatoire des Arts et Meters. In 1831 he was made professor of political economy at the College de France.

Say in 1828-1830 published his Curios complet d'economie peltaique pranque.

In 1826, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. ln his later years Say became subject to attacks of nervous apoplexy. He lost his wife in January 1830; and from that time his health constantly declined.

When the revolution of that year broke out, he was named a member of the council-general of the department of the Seine, but found it necessary to resign.

He died in Paris on 15 November 1832, and is buried in the cemetery of Invanlides.
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