Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(772 words)

1. Definition

The maxim laissez-faire probably goes back to a French businessman named Legendre. Asked by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the finance minister of Louis XIV, what would be the best economic policy for the state to follow, he is said to have replied “Laissez-nous faire” (“Leave it to us”) [3. 211]. In 1734 the French writer René d’Argenson used the same formula in his unpublished memoirs and repeated it in 1751 in a contribution to the Journal œconomique. But the maxim became popular prima…

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Köster, Roman, “Laissez-faire”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 04 March 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_022996>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20190124

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