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SMITH, Adam (1723-1790). Autograph letter signed ('Adam Smith') to [William Eden, later 1st Baron Auckland], Edinburgh, 9 December 1783.
SMITH, Adam (1723-1790). Autograph letter signed ('Adam Smith') to [William Eden, later 1st Baron Auckland], Edinburgh, 9 December 1783.
SMITH, Adam (1723-1790). Autograph letter signed ('Adam Smith') to [William Eden, later 1st Baron Auckland], Edinburgh, 9 December 1783.
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SMITH, Adam (1723-1790). Autograph letter signed ('Adam Smith') to [William Eden, later 1st Baron Auckland], Edinburgh, 9 December 1783.

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SMITH, Adam (1723-1790). Autograph letter signed ('Adam Smith') to [William Eden, later 1st Baron Auckland], Edinburgh, 9 December 1783.

2½ pages, 253 x 195mm (the last six lines cut down from originally conjoined f.2 and now on a loose fragment, approx. 90 x 187mm; a smaller fragment with the phrase 'Commissioner of the Customs' pasted onto the foot of f.1v; f.1 reinforced at left and lower margins, with traces of mount). Provenance: sale at Bonham's, London, 18 June 2014, lot 168.

'... our future Commercial connexions with our thirteen revolted Colonies ...': on trade with America, preventing smuggling, and not being 'the only Adam Smith in the world'. Writing as commissioner of customs in Edinburgh, a post he had occupied since 1778, Smith refers to some accounts which he had intended to send to Eden, explaining that although 'the Officers whose business it is to prepare them had given me reason to expect that they would be ready before this time', they will now be delayed for another few days. He goes on 'The report of the board of Customs here, concerning the proper method of preventing smuggling, is likely to be so perfectly agreable [sic] to my own ideas, that I shall not anticipate it by giving you any account of them'. As soon as the customs board is adjourned, Smith will write again to 'endeavour to answer as fully and distinctly as I can, all the questions you have done me the very great honour to ask me concerning our future Commercial connexions with our thirteen revolted Colonies'. A postscript notes that Smith is likely to be appointed by the customs board as commissioner to Eden's parliamentary committee: he continues on a humorous note 'When you do me the honour to write to me, Be so good as to direct to me Commissioner of the Customs. I once had the vanity to flatter myself that I was the only Adam Smith in the world; but to my unspeakable mortification, there are two or three others of the same name in this town, and my letters have sometimes gone wrong'.

The independence of the United States of America had been recognised by Great Britain only three months previously, at the Treaty of Paris on 3 September. The recipient, William Eden (1745-1814, created Baron Auckland in 1793), had written to Smith in connection with the American Intercourse Bill, asking his advice on the wisdom of according a free trade treaty to the new republic, and expressing fears as to the potential impact on English, Canadian and Irish commerce. Smith replied (on 15 December) strongly opposing any restrictions, though more on the grounds of equality of treatment than strictly of free trade. In spite of his hesitation on this point, Eden was strongly influenced by Smith's ideas both in 1779, when as secretary of the Board of Trade he removed trade barriers between Ireland and both British and colonial markets, and again in 1786, when he negotiated a commercial treaty with France which favoured free trade. The reference to smuggling in the present letter is a reminder of the irony of Smith's responsibility as commissioner of customs for suppressing such activities, in spite of his defence of the principles of smuggling in Wealth of Nations. Not published in The Correspondence of Adam Smith (ed. Mossner and Ross, 1987).

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