Price, Richard, 1723-1791

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Richard Price was an English nonconformist minister and writer on morals, politics, and economics.

From the description of Papers, 1767-1790. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122488751

British philologist and antiquary.

From the description of Papers, 1753-1791. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 36115923

The son of a harsh Calvinist Congregational minister in the Welsh heartland, Richard Price followed in his father's footsteps in profession only, becoming a leading advocate of a liberal Christianity and a supporter of republican and revolutionary values. Born in 1723 in Glamorgan, Price was educated at a succession of dissenting academies before establishing himself as chaplain to Mr. Streatfield at Stoke Newington and filling in at a variety of dissenting pulpits in the vicinity of London. The door from this seemingly obscure position to greater achievement, however, opened through Price's formidable literary and intellectual skills.

In his first and most widely known work, Review of the Principal Questions in Morals (London, 1758), written the same year that he married Sarah Blundell and settled at Newington Green, Price pitted himself against the moral philosophy of Frances Hutcheson, arguing that morality is intrinsic to human action and that good and evil could be ascertained through reason and individual conscience alone, without the need to posit the existence of a separate moral sense. In later works such as Importance of Christianity (London, 1766), Price built upon this rationalistic moral edifice, rejecting the concepts of original sin and eternal punishment, further distinguishing his thought from orthodoxy. Together with his friend Joseph Priestley, Price became one of the preeminent spokesmen for "rational dissent" in the 1760s and 1770s, and his works found a wide readership. Through his endeavors he became an intimate correspondent of several of the leading intellectual figures in England and America, including David Hume, Benjamin Franklin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the Earl of Shelburne. In testimony to his stature, Price was admitted to the Royal Society in 1765 and received a doctorate of divinity from Aberdeen in 1767.

Price's reputation was founded not only upon his contributions to moral and religious philosophy, but for his pioneering interest in finance, economy, and insurance. He published an important work on life expectancy in the Philosophical Transactions of 1769, and his pamphlet, "Appeal to the Public on the Subject of the National Debt" (London, 1771) lambasted the growth of the public debt, inducing William Pitt to make serious efforts toward its eradication. Among his other works, Observations on Reversionary Payments (1771) fleshed out a practical system for life-insurance and pensions, and his Essay on the Population of England (1780) was an important effort in its genre.

Politically and religiously, Price was a throughgoing liberal. During the American Revolution, he was one of the most strident and consistent voices in England opposing war against the Americans. His Observations on Civil Liberty and the Justice and Policy of the War with America (London, 1776) sold remarkably well, earning accolades and broadsides intermittently, and for this and the unqualified support he tendered the American cause, Congress invited him to emigrate in 1778 and assume responsibilities for overseeing American finances. Price wisely declined. After the war, his popularity soared on both sides of the Atlantic, but his health soon failed. He lived to see the United States lay the foundation of its political organization with the ratification of the Constitution and to witness the early, optimistic phases of the Revolution in France, a "glorious" one in his eyes, without experiencing either the depths of French Revolutionary violence or the English backlash against political and religious unorthodoxy. A founding member of the Unitarian Society in 1791, Price died on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1791.

From the guide to the Richard Price Papers, 1767-1790, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Price, Richard, 1723-1791. Papers, 1753-1791. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Chermont, Dominique-Prosper de, 1741-1798. Memoires sur l'amerique; Recueilly et écrit de Chermont du Poncet, capitaine au corps royal du génie. A Valenciennes 1779. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Franklin-Bache Papers, 1707-1799 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Morse Family Papers, 1779-1868 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn MS 294: Letters & Notes Relating to Josiah Tucker, 1776-1791 Library, St John's College, Oxford
referencedIn Benjamin Franklin Papers Part 1 -- Letters to Franklin, 1730-1776 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Price, Richard, 1723-1791. Papers, 1767-1790. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Price, Richard, 1723-1791. Letter, 1772 September 3, Newington Green to Alexander Chisholm, [n.p.]. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Library. Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection. 1668-1983. American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Autograph File, P, 1554-2005. Houghton Library
referencedIn Benjamin Franklin Papers Part 3 -- Letters to Franklin, 1778 April-December American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Papers, 1775-1935. Houghton Library
referencedIn Vaughan, Benjamin, 1751-1835. Papers, 1746-1900 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Morse family. Morse family papers, 1779-1868 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Ford, Alice, 1906-. Research notes for the biography of Edward Hicks, c. 1952. Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
referencedIn Miscellaneous Benjamin Franklin Collections, 1710-1822 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Richard Price Papers, 1767-1790 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Chermont, Dominique-Prosper de, 1741-1798. Memoires sur l'amerique; Recueilly et écrit de Chermont du Poncet, capitaine au corps royal du génie. A Valenciennes 1779. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Boswell's Life of Johnson : including Boswell's Journal of a tour to the Hebrides and Johnson's Diary of a journey into North Wales, edited by George Birkbeck Hill, extra-illustrated, 1464-1897 (inclusive), 1724-1874 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Benjamin Franklin Papers Part 4 -- Letters to Franklin, 1779 January-November American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Upcott, William, 1779-1845,. [Collection of letters on antiquarian subjects], 18th century. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Price, Richard, 1723-1791. Papers, 1767-1789. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Benjamin Franklin Papers Part 9 -- Letters to Franklin, 1787-1790 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Vaughan, John, 1755-1841. Papers, 1768 - ca. 1936 American Philosophical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, John, 1735-1826. person
associatedWith Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873 person
associatedWith Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820 person
correspondedWith Barlow, Joel, 1754-1812 person
associatedWith Bingham, William, 1752-1804. person
correspondedWith Boswell, James, 1740-1795 person
associatedWith Bowdoin, James, 1726-1790. person
associatedWith Bowdoin, James, 1752-1811 person
associatedWith Capellen, Joan Derk van der, 1741-1784. person
associatedWith Chapone, Mrs. (Hester), 1727-1801. person
associatedWith Chauncy, Charles, 1705-1787. person
associatedWith Chauncy, Charles, 1723-1791 person
associatedWith Chermont, Dominique-Prosper de, 1741-1798. person
associatedWith Chisholm, Alexander. person
associatedWith Clarke, John person
associatedWith Cooper, Thomas, 1759-1839 person
associatedWith Coues, Elliott, 1842-1899 person
associatedWith Cuvier, Georges, Baron, 1769-1832 person
associatedWith Darlington, William, 1782-1863 person
associatedWith Edison, Thomas A., (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Eliot, Mr. person
associatedWith Eliot, Samuel person
associatedWith Eliot, Samuel, 1739-1820 person
associatedWith Everett, Edward, 1794-1865 person
associatedWith Fitch, John person
associatedWith Ford, Alice, 1906- person
associatedWith Foster, William person
associatedWith Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790. person
associatedWith Genth, F. A., (Frederick Augustus), 1820-1893 person
associatedWith Gordon, William, 1728-1807. person
associatedWith Graves, Thomas Graves, 1st Baron, 1725-1802 person
associatedWith Gray, Asa, 1810-1888 person
associatedWith Greaves, Thomas person
associatedWith Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872 person
associatedWith Harding, Warren G. person
associatedWith Hazlitt, William, 1737-1820. person
associatedWith Howard, John, 1726-1790. person
associatedWith Ingenhousz, Jan, 1730-1799. person
associatedWith Jackson, John person
associatedWith Jackson, Jonathan, 1743-1810 person
associatedWith Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. person
associatedWith Lansdowne, William Petty, Marquis of, 1737-1805. person
associatedWith Lathrop, John, 1740-1816 person
associatedWith Lathrop, John, 1772-1820 person
associatedWith Lee, Arthur, 1740-1792. person
associatedWith London. Common Council person
associatedWith Morse family. family
associatedWith Morse Family family
associatedWith Newcomb, Simon person
associatedWith Newton, Isaac, Sir, 1642-1727 person
associatedWith Poinsett, Joel Roberts, 1779-1851 person
associatedWith Priestley, Joseph, 1733-1804. person
associatedWith Rittenhouse, David, 1732-1796 person
associatedWith Rush, Benjamin, 1745-1813. person
associatedWith Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, 1793-1864 person
associatedWith Seybert, Adam, 1773-1825 person
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Stevens, Henry person
associatedWith Stiles, Ezra, 1727-1795. person
associatedWith Sullivan, James, 1744-1808 person
associatedWith Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872 person
associatedWith Thomson, Charles, 1729-1824 person
associatedWith Tucker, Josiah., 1712-1799 person
associatedWith Upcott, William, 1779-1845, person
associatedWith Van der Capellen, Joan Derk, 1741-1784 person
associatedWith Vaughan, Benjamin, 1751-1835 person
associatedWith Vaughan, John, 1756-1841 person
associatedWith Vaughan, Samuel, 1720-1802 person
associatedWith Vaughan, Samuel, Sr., 1720-1802 person
associatedWith Washington, George, 1732-1799. person
associatedWith Waterton, Charles, 1782-1865 person
associatedWith Wayne, Anthony person
associatedWith Webster, Noah, 1758-1843. person
associatedWith Wheelock, John, 1754-1817. person
associatedWith White, William, 1748-1836. person
associatedWith Wigglesworth, Edward, 1732-1794. person
associatedWith Willard, Joseph, 1738-1804. person
associatedWith William Seward, fl. ca. 1790 person
associatedWith Winthrop, John, 1714-1779. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Great Britain
United States
United States
United States
United States
United States
Abolition, emancipation, freedom
African Americans
American Philosophical Society
American Revolution
Bunker Hill, Battle of, 1775
Colonial Politics
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
Gage, Thomas, 1721-1787
Great Britain
Harvard College
Howard, John, 1726-1790
Lexington, Battle of, 1775
Life expectancy
Slaves, slavery, slave trade
Smith, Adam, 1723-1790
Smith, Isaac, 1744-1817
Social conditions, social advocacy, social reform


Birth 1723-02-23

Death 1791-04-19





Ark ID: w6nz8k7k

SNAC ID: 22990772