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One of the central beliefs of classical economic theory was that there is an inexorable tendency for population to press against the available natural resources, especially those providing the food supply. This doctrine, though not originating with him, was eloquently expressed by Thomas Robert Malthas (1766-1834) in an essay which first appeared in 1798. Malthus, a high-ranking graduate of Cambridge University, was a clergyman in the Church of England before he became a professor of history and political economy at the East India College, Haileybury, in 1805. This college had just been established by the British East India Company to train men for its service in Asia. Malthus, one of the first persons ever to hold a professorship in economics, continued in this post for the remainder of his life. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XIV: The Industrial Revolution, Classical Economics, and Economic Liberalism. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.