Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

A French economist, b. at Mugron, a small city in the Department of Landes, 29 June, 1801; d. at Rome, 24 December, 1850. He was the son of Pierre Bastiat, whose father had founded at Bayonne a business house that prospered in consequence of the franchise granted this port by the Treaty of Versailles, but ceased to flourish under the prohibitory regime of the Empire. The widely different effects of these two economic systems upon the fortunes of his family undoubtedly gave rise to Bastiat's free-trade opinions. Left an orphan at the age of nine, he was brought up by his paternal grandfather and, after pursuing his studies at St. Sever and Sorèze, entered the business founded by his grandfather and then conducted by his uncle at Bayonne. Returning to Mugron in 1825, he inherited an extensive estate through the death of his grandfather, and subsequently devoted himself to farming. After the Revolution of 1830 he was appointed justice of the peace at Mugron and, being deeply interested in political economy, gave himself up to it with great earnestness and constituted himself the champion of commercial liberty. In 1841 he published his first essay "Le fisc et la vigne" and, apprised of the free-trade movement that Cobden was then directing in England, joined forces with him. In 1844, his article, "L'influence des tarifs anglais et francais" in the "Journal des Economistes" opened his way to fame. Then, appeared successively: "Sophismes économiques", "Cobden et la ligue", and several pamphlets, one of which, "Pétition des marchands de chandelles", against the sun that interferes with the candle merchants' trade, is a little masterpiece of verve and delicate irony. Elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1848, and then to the Legislative Assembly, he became the implacable enemy of socialism, against which he wrote: "Propriété et loi", "Capital et rente", "Justice et fraternité", "Protectionisme et communisme", and other treatises. In 1849 he published "Harmonies économiques", which the illness that had already undermined his health prevented him from finishing.

Bastiat belonged to the Liberal school and enunciated its principles on the following liens: "Let men work, trade, learn, form partnerships, act and react upon one another, since according to the decrees of xxyyyk.htm">Providence, naught save order, harmony, and progress can spring from their intelligent spontaneity". (Harmonies, p. 12.) Of a sincere and generous nature he was fitted to understand and defend Catholic truth ; but the prejudices in the midst of which he lived kept him aloof from the Faith until the very eve of his death. It was in Rome that his eyes were opened to the light of Catholicism, and Prodhon, his enemy, says that in his last hour Bastiat cried out with Polyeucte: "I see, I know, I believe ; I am a Christian ". Some time before his death he declared that if God would but grant him a new lease of life he would devote his energy to the development of Christian harmony and political economy, but he did not live to fulfill his vow. Bastiat's complete works were published by Guillaumin (Paris, 1854, 1872).


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 10:8-11
8 Then I heard the voice I had heard from heaven ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
14 In the way of your instructions lies my joy, a joy ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 19:45-48
45 Then he went into the Temple and began driving out ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 21st, 2014 Image

St. Gelasius
November 21: St. Gelasius I, Pope (Feast day - November 21) Gelasius was born ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter