Laissez Faire: A Conservative Approach to the Industrial Revolution

Start Your Visit With

Historical Timelines
Chronological Eras
Information Tables
General Interest Maps
History Quizzes

Travel and History Blog

Follow OregonCoastMag on Twitter



Laissez faire (from the French, meaning to leave alone or to allow to do) is an economic and political doctrine that holds that economies function most efficiently when unencumbered by government regulation. Laissez faire advocates favor individual self-interest and competition, and oppose the taxation and regulation of commerce.

This position was put forth by the following:

Laissez faire economic principles were not always enthusiastically accepted in the United States:

The philosophy of governmental noninvolvement in business is not always applied symmetrically, as Franklin D. Roosevelt pointed out in his speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco in 1932:

The same man who tells you that he does not want to see the government interfere in business-and he means it, and has plenty of good reasons for saying so-is the first to go to Washington and ask the government for a prohibitory tariff on his product. When things get just bad enough-as they did two years ago-he will go with equal speed to the United States government and ask for a loan; and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation is the outcome of it. Each group has sought protection from the government for its own special interest, without realizing that the function of government must be to favor no small group at the expense of its duty to protect the rights of personal freedom and of private property of all its citizens.

- - - Books You May Like Include: ----

Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 by David M. Kennedy.
Between 1929 and 1945, two great travails were visited upon the American people: the Great Depression and World War II. This book tells the story of h...
Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich by Kevin Phillips.
Most American conservatives take it as an article of faith that the less governmental involvement in affairs of the market and pocketbook the better. ...
The Monied Metropolis: New York City and the Consolidation of the American Bourgeoisie, 1850 1896 by Sven Beckert.
Social classes, like fortunes, are made and remade, and invariably the two are linked. Tracing the shifting fortunes and changing character of New Yor...
And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis.
Like a great barroom raconteur, the author of this engaging treatise regales his audience with piquant opinions, colorful trivia, lush rhetorical turn...