First American Edition of Bentham's Classic Essay on Usury Bentham, Jeremy [1748-1832]. Defence of Usury; Shewing the Impolicy of the Present Legal Restraints on the Terms of Pecuniary Bargains. To Which is Added, A Letter to Adam Smith, Esq. LL.D. On the Discouragement of Inventive Industry. Philadelphia: Printed for Matthew Carey, 1796. [iv], -149,  pp. Includes 2 pp. publisher advertisement. 12mo. (5-3/4" x 3-1/2"). Contemporary tree sheep, lettering piece and gilt fillets to spine. Moderate rubbing to extremities, front joint just starting at ends. Light toning to text, light foxing to a few leaves, early owner signature to head of title page and left-hand margin of p. 50. An attractive copy. $2,500. * First American edition. Bentham's celebrated essay on the usury laws as an attack on liberty. It began as a series of letters written between January and April 1787 during his long stay with his brother Samuel at his house at Zadobras, near Crichoff in Russia. The letters (13 in all) were written to his friend, George Wilson, in London, largely in response to reports (later to be unconfirmed) that Pitt was then contemplating a reduction of the rate of interest from 5 to 4%. Bentham took the opportunity to write about the commercially thorny interest-rate question including, of course, what he regarded as the stupidity of the government controlled interest rates. He early on took issue with Adam Smith, who seemed, in the Wealth of Nations, to approve the 5% limitation. In May 1787, the manuscript was sent to Wilson. It was published in 1788 through the agency of Jeremiah Bentham. Cohen, Bibliography of Early American Law 2641.
Book number 67227