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Francis Wayland: Perspectives of a Nineteenth Century Political Economist on the "Business" of Higher Education


  • William J. Barber

    (Wesleyan University)


The Reverend Francis Wayland, author of the most widely-read textbook on political economy in pre-Civil War America, was persuaded that higher education should be guided by market principles. Using arguments derived.from classical economics, he diagnosed shortcomings in the U.S. collegiate system of the first half of the nineteenth century. His proposed remedies had sweeping ramifications for faculty compensation, for the program of studies, and for the allocation of institutional resources. This paper establishes linkages between his thought as an economist and as an educational reformer. As president of Brown University, Wayland translated his ideas on academic organization and management into practice in the 1850s. The results of that experiment in applied economics are examined.

Suggested Citation

  • William J. Barber, 1992. "Francis Wayland: Perspectives of a Nineteenth Century Political Economist on the "Business" of Higher Education," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 133-141, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:18:y:1992:i:2:p:133-141

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    JEL classification:

    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education


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