Thomas Robert Malthus: Observations on the Effects of the Corn Laws
"Observations on the Effects of the Corn Laws" is a pamphlet published by Thomas R. Malthus, Professor of Political Economy, regarding the policy guiding the rise and fall in the price of corn referred to as the "Corn Law." At the end of the Napoleonic Wars Parliament passed legislation banning the importation of foreign corn into Britain until domestic corn cost 80 shillings per quarter. The high price caused the cost of food to increase and caused distress among the working classes in the towns. It led to serious rioting in London and to the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1819. In this pamphlet, printed during the parliamentary discussion, Malthus tentatively supported the free-traders. He argued that given the increasing cost of growing British corn, advantages accrued from supplementing it from cheaper foreign sources.