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America’s History of Economic Liberty, Voluntary Union, and the Free Market

“The most numerous and influential group of settlers in the seventeenth century, the Puritans, at first tried an idealistic form of mercantilism,using governmental authority to direct the economic affairs of Massachusetts Bay toward the concepts of fairness and justice. thus the Puritans enacted subsidies and bounties, and tried to set ‘just’ prices, wages and profits.

But gradually the Puritans, and the settlers in other colonies discovered that such government interventions in the economy did not work, that they were all instances of ‘man playing God’ and led to turmoil and poverty, while they violated the settlers’ economic freedom. Gradually, the colonists began to conclude that God had created a natural order in economics, in which there was a minimum of governmental intervention, a prohibition of coercion by either buyer or seller of goods or services, and a maximum of voluntary exchange.

Thus the colonists began to come together in the kind of voluntary economic union known as the free market, where civil government’s role is restricted to the prevention and punishment of theft and fraud, and the providing of judicial services, and where exchanges are made only when both buyer and seller view them as beneficial.”

Charles Hull Wolfe, Foundation for Economic Education

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