Frederic Bastiat, a French economist, born in Bayonne, June 29, 1801, died in Rome, Dec. 24, 1850. He was educated for commercial pursuits, but the bent of his mind was toward political economy; and a large inheritance left him in 1825 enabled him to devote himself to that study. In 1840 he travelled through Portugal and Spain; in 1844 he made his first appearance as a writer in an article attacking the protective system, published in the Journal des economistes; in 1845 he visited England, and made the acquaintance of the Manchester school, one fruit of winch was a work entitled Cobden et la ligue, ou l'agitation anglaise pour la liberie des echanges (1 vol. 8vo, Paris, 1845); in 1846 he took an active part in the establishment at Bordeaux and at Paris of a free-trade association, becoming its Parisian secretary, and the chief editor of the journal Le libre echange. At this time he also came forward as one of the opponents of the socialists of his country, whose idea of the omnipotence of the state he combated. In 1848 he was chosen a member of the constituent and then of the legislative assembly, but his health did not allow him to appear at the tribune.
He gained a great reputation by his controversies with Proudhon. His labors exhausted him, and his physicians ordered him to Italy in September, 1850. Among his most striking works are the pamphlet Capital et rente, gratuite du credit (Paris, 1849), and Harmonies economiques, left incomplete at his death. The last is an attempt to demonstrate that the laws of economy all tend concurrently and harmoniously to the amelioration of human life. This work was the occasion of a prolonged controversy in the Paris Journal des economistes between M. Bastiat and his friends and Mr. Henry 0. Carey of Philadelphia, who contended that the principle of economical harmony was a discovery of his own. An American translation of M. Bastiat's "Essays on Political Economy " was published in Chicago in 1869.