It is David Ricardo, (1772-1823) rather than Malthus who has long been regarded as the more outstanding of the classical economists after Adam Smith. His father was a Jewish immigrant to England who became a prosperous merchant and broker. Ricardo entered his father's business, but after marrying a Quakeress and embracing her faith was forced onto his own resources. By the time he reached his early forties he had gained a large fortune as a stock broker which enabled him to retire to a large rural estate. Here he played the role of landlord and engaged in serious study. In 1819 he bought a seat in Parliament, representing an Irish rotten borough which he seems never even to have visited. This gave him an opportunity to participate at a high level in discussing the great economic and political issues then before the country. As a member of Parliament he favored parliamentary reform, widening the suffrage, and free trade. The first of these measures might well have lost him his seat and the third would have adversely affected the income from his estate. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "8. David Ricardo and Classical Economics. Pt XIV: The Industrial Revolution, Classical Economics, and Economic Liberalism." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 37-49.