About this Book
Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations was first published in 1776. This edition of Smith's work is based on Edwin Cannan's careful 1904 compilation (Methuen and Co., Ltd) of Smith's fifth edition of the book (1789), the final edition in Smith's lifetime.
Cannan's preface and introductory remarks are presented below. His extensive footnotes, detailing the changes undergone by the book over its five editions during Smith's lifetime, as well as annotated references to the book, are also included here. Only Cannan's marginal notes, indexes, and contents are not presented here, because the wonders of electronic searches and the speed of the net replace most of the intended function of those features.
Internal references by page numbers have been replaced by linked paragraph reference numbers appropriate for this online edition. Paragraph references typically have three parts: the book, chapter, and paragraph. E.g., IV.7.111 refers to Book IV, Chapter VII, paragraph 111.
Like Cannan, we have chosen to preserve the occasional erratic spelling in Smith's fifth edition, which reflects changes in the language going on at the time Smith was writing.
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