In the aftermath of the French Revolution, advocates of protection against foreign competition prevailed in a fierce controversy over international trade.
This groundbreaking study is the first to examine this 'protectionist turn' in full.
Faced with a reaffirmation of mercantile jealousy under the Bourbon Restoration, Benjamin Constant, Jean-Baptiste Say and regional publicists advocated the adoption of the liberty of commerce in order to consolidate the new liberal order.
But after the Revolution of 1830 a new generation of liberal thinkers endeavoured to reconcile the jealousy of trade with the discourse of commercial society and political liberty.
New justifications for protection oscillated between an industrialist reinvention of jealousy and an aspiration to self-sufficiency as a means of attenuating the rise of urban pauperism.
A strident denunciation of British power and social imbalances served to defuse the internal tensions of the protectionist discourse and facilitated its dissemination across the French political spectrum.