Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Turgot’s Missing Manuscripts- A Partial Recovery

van den Berg Richard, Kingston University

With their transfer to the Archives Nationales in 2015, the Turgot family archive became accessible for the first time since the 1970s. However, it soon transpired that various of the manuscripts, which researchers had expected to find in this collection, were missing. In 2021, photographs of a number of these manuscripts were located in the library of the late professor Takumi Tsuda. This paper examines the digital copies that were recently made of those photographs. They give access to the original contents of some of A.R.J. Turgot’s most significant writings, including his early discours delivered at the Sorbonne, the draft known as Valeurs et monnaies and Turgot’s exchanges with Benjamin Franklin. The paper argues that the manuscripts provide two kinds of insights. First, the frequent alterations and corrections visible in several manuscripts allow us to appreciate Turgot’s writing process and the formation of his views. Second, a comparison with later editions of the manuscripts from the 19th and early 20th century shows the extent to which later editors, Pierre-Samuel Du Pont and Gustave Schelle in particular, were instrumental in presenting, and in some cases misrepresenting, Turgot’s writings to subsequent generations of historians.

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Keywords: Turgot Value Theory Progress

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