Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Invisible Hand" author

Yesterday I asked, who said this?

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.
The answer: George Washington in his first inaugural address.

If you read the speech, you will find that Washington was referring to God, not to the workings of supply and demand. But then Smith may well have thought of the market's "Invisible Hand" as having a degree of divinity as well.

Was it mere coincidence that Washington and Adam Smith both used the "Invisible Hand" metaphor? Perhaps, but consider this story from Princeton professor Alan Krueger:
NOT long ago, I asked my research assistant, Melissa Clark, to track down a passage from "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith. Although I expected her to consult the modern edition, she instead requested the original 1776 edition from Princeton's Rare Book Library. The librarian accidentally gave her the fifth edition, published in 1789, and therein she discovered a remarkable signature: George Washington.
Happy July 4th everyone!