Profile Major Works Resources

James Laurence Laughlin, 1850-1933.

Portrait of J.L. Laughlin

J. Laurence Laughlin was the American arch-conservative monetary economist at Chicago.. 

Born in Deerfield, Ohio, James Laurence Laughlin obtained his B.A. in history from Harvard in 1873.  In 1878, Laughlin became an instructor in economics at Harvard  under Charles Dunbar, replacing Silas MacVane (who had moved on to history).  After receiving his Ph.D (in history), Laughlin was appointed assistant professor at Harvard in 1883.  He left his post in 1887 to work for a Philadelphia insurance company. 

In 1890, Laughlin returned to academia, becoming a professor of political economy and finance at Cornell.  He was there a scarce two years before the newly-created University of Chicago invited him, in 1892, to form its first economics department and take up the editorship of the fledgling Journal of Political Economy.  Laughlin took his Cornell protegés Adolph C. Miller and Thorstein Veblen

J. Laurence Laughlin would preside over the first few decades of Chicago economics, and gave it its first imprint, which, in several ways, foreshadowed the future "Chicago School".  Despite his friendships with many radical Institutionalists (notably Veblen), Laughlin was dogmatically (Neo)classical (relying strictly on J.S. Mill and later Alfred Marshall), a strident free-market and "hard money" man.   In 1883, Laughlin helped found the conservative "Political Economy Club" in New York and refused to join  the American Economic Association

Laughlin's reputation rests on his work in monetary economics.  He was a vocal opponent to bimetallism and one of the more avid promoters of the Federal Reserve system.   J. Laurence Laughlin founded the National Citizens' League for the Promotion of a Sound Banking System in 1911 in Chicago, putting out a series of pamphlets in the run up to the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.

Laughlin retired from Chicago in 1916.



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Major Works of J. Laurence Laughlin

  • "The Anglo-Saxon legal procedure", 1876, Essays in Anglo Saxon Law, p.183
  • "The Refunding Bill of 1881", 1882, Atlantic Monthly  (Feb), p.195 [moa]
  • "The French Panic", 1882, Atlantic Monthly (May), p.695 [moa]
  • "Evils of the Sub-Treasury System", 1883, North American Review, p.552 [av], [moa]
  • (Editor), J.S. Mill's 1848 Principles of Political Economy, 1884 [bk]
  • " The Silver Danger",1884, Atlantic Monthly (May), p.677 [moa]
  • " The New Party", 1884, Atlantic Monthly (Jun), p.837 [moa]
  • "The Despotism of Party", 1884, Atlantic Monthly (Sep), p.374
  • "Workingmen's Grievances", 1884, North American Review, p.510 [av, moa]
  • "Shall Silver be Demonetized?", 1885, North American Review, p.492 [av, moa] (with Sumner and Walker)
  • "Political Economy and the Civil War", 1885, Atlantic Monthly (Apr), p.444 [moa]
  • " Our Political Delusion", 1885, Atlantic Monthly, p.826 [moa]
  • The Study of Political Economy: Hints to students and teachers, 1885. [bk]
  • The History of Bimetallism in the United States, 1886. [bk] [1888 2nd ed, 1896 3rd ed, 1898 4th ed] [lib]
  • Extracts from the laws of the United States relating to American shipping, 1886 [bk]
  • The Elements of Political Economy, with some applications to the questions of the day, 1887. [bk] [1896 repr], [1902 rev ed] [1920 repr]
  • "Marshall's Theory of Value and Distribution", 1887, , QJE (v.1 Jan),  p.227-42 [js] [av]
  • "Gold and Prices since 1873", 1887, QJE (Apr), p.319-55 [js] [offpr] [av]
  • A Synopsis of the First Three Books of John Stuart Mill's Principles of Political Economy, 1888 [bk]
  •  "Review of Crump's Causes of the Great Fall in Prices", 1889, PSQ (Sep),  p.536 [js]
  • "Review of Horton's Silver in Europe", 1890, PSQ (Sep), p.537 [js]
  • "Review of Boissevain's Monetary Question, and Laveleye's Monnaie et le Bimetallime and Daniell's Industrial Competition of Asia" 1891, PSQ (Dec), p.755 [js]
  • "The Study of Political Economy in the United States", 1892, JPE (Dec), p.1 [js]
  •  "Appendix I: Courses of Study in Political Economy in the United States in 1876 and in 1892-93",  1892, JPE (Dec), p.143 [js]
  • "Review of Soetbeer's Litteraturnachweis über Geld- und Münzwesen", 1892, JPE (Dec), p.121 [js]
  • "Taussig's Silver Situation in America", 1892, JPE (Dec), p.127 [js]
  • "Giffen's Case against Bimetallism",  1892, JPE (Dec),  p.131 [js]
  • "Review of Taussig's Silver Situation in America", 1892, JPE
  • "Review of Giffen's Case Against Bimetallism", 1892, JPE
  • "Appreciation of Gold", 1893, JPE [av]
  • "Indian Monetary History", 1893, JPE
  • "Gold and Silver in Santo Domingo", 1894, JPE  [av]
  • "Monetary Reform in Santo Domingo", 1894, Atlantic Monthly [moa]
  • "The Baltimore Plan of Bank Issues", 1894, JPE [av]
  • Facts about Money, 1895 [bk]
  • Patriotism and Imperialism, 1895 [hth]
  • ""Coin's food for the gullible", 1895, Forum (Jul), p.573
  • "Our Monetary Programme", 1896, Forum (Feb), p.652
  •  "Facts about Money: A reply to W. Fisher", 1896, QJE, (Apr), p.337-40 [js]
  • "Teaching of Economics", 1896, Atlantic Monthly (May), p.682 [moa]
  • "Cause of Agricultural Unrest ", 1896, Atlantic Monthly (Nov), p.577 [moa]
  • "The Gold Standard in Japan", 1897, JPE [av]
  • "Francis Amasa Walker", 1897, JPE
  • "Bibliography of F.A. Walker's Works", 1897, JPE [av]
  • "The Withdrawal of Treasury Notes of 1890", 1898, JPE
  • Report of the Monetary Commission of the Indianapolis Convention, 1898 [bk]
  • "Professor Dunbar", 1900, JPE [av]
  • "Recent Monetary Legislation", 1900, JPE
  • "Economics in the Schools", 1901, JPE
  • "Prices and the International Movement of Specie", 1902, JPE [av]
  • Credit, 1902 [bk]
  • Reciprocity, with H. Parker Willis, 1903 [bk]
  • "A Theory of Prices", 1905, Pub AEA [av]
  • Aus dem amerikanischen Wirtschaftsleben, 1906 [bk]
  • "The Unions versus Higher Wages", 1906, JPE [av]
  • The Principles of Money, 1903 [bk], [1919 repr]
  • Industrial America: Berlin Lectures of 1906, 1906 [bk, av]
  • "Elastic Currency and the Money Market", 1907, JPE  [av]
  • The Guaranty of Bank Deposits, 1908 [bk]
  • "Gold and Prices, 1890-1907", 1909, JPE [av]
  • "Causes of the Changes in Prices Since 1896", 1911, AER - discussion
  • "Currency Reform", 1907, JPE [av]
  • Latter-Day Problem, 1909 [bk]
  • Banking Reform and the National Reserve Association 1911 [App in Aldrich et al, 1912, Report of National Monetary Commission]
  • Suggestions for Banking Reform, 1911 [App in Aldrich et al, 1912, Report of National Monetary Commission]
  • "A National Reserve Association and the Movement of Cotton in the South", 1912, JPE [App in Aldrich et al, 1912, Report of National Monetary Commission]
  • Banking Control, 1912 [av] [App Aldrich et al, 1912, Report of National Monetary Commission]
  • Banking Reform, 1912 [av]
  • "The Monopoly of Labor", 1913, Atlantic Monthly, p.444
  • Credit of the Nations: A study of the European wars, 1918. [bk]
  • Money and Prices, 1919 [bk]
  • "Capitalism and Social Discontent", 1916, NAR  [av]
  • Banking Progress, 1920 [bk]
  • The Solution of the Labor Problem, 1920 [bk]
  • A New Exposition of Money, Credit and Prices, 1931.
  • The Federal Reserve Act, its origin and problems, 1933.



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Resources on J. Laurence Laughlin

  • "Review of Hadley''s Railroad Transportation and Laughlin's History of Bimetallism", by Richmond Mayo-Smith, 1886, PSQ, (Mar), p.141 [js]
  • "On the Theory of Value: Note to Laughlin", by Alfred Marshall, 1887, QJE (Apr), p.359-61 [js]
  • "'Coin' and His Critics - review of Harvey's Coin and Laughlin's Facts about Money", by Willard Fisher, 1896, QJE (Jan),  p.187-208 [js]
  • "Facts about Money: A rejoinder to Laughlin" by Willard Fisher, 1896, QJE (Jul), p.467-73 [js]
  • "The Origin of the National Citizens League" [App n Aldrich et al, 1912, Report of National Monetary Commission], Constitution and By Laws [App]
  • Personal note on Laughlin's arrival at Chicago in AAPSS (1892, May, p.113)
  • National Citizens League list of publications (1911-13) in Library of Congress, 1913, Select List of References on the Monetary Question
  • "J Laurence Lauglin and the Quantity Theory of Money", by L. Girton and D. Roper1977 [fed]
  • J. Laurence Laughlin papers at Chicago
  • "J. Laurence Laughlin", by J.U. Nef, 1934, JPE
  • J. Laurence Laughlin: Chapters in the Career of an Economist by Alfred Bornemann, 1940
  • "J. Laurence Laughlin", by W.C. Mitchell, 1941, JPE
  • Laughlin online books at U Penn
  • Wikipedia


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