Georg Friedrich List (August 6, 1789 – November 30, 1846) was a leading 19th-century German-American economist who developed the "National System" or what some would call today the National System of Innovation. He was a forefather of the German historical school of economics and considered the original European unity theorist whose ideas were the basis for the European Economic Community.
List was born in Reutlingen, Württemberg. Unwilling to follow the occupation of his father, who was a prosperous tanner, he became an accountant in the public service (a so-called 'Cameralist of the Bureaus'), and by 1816 had risen to the post of ministerial under-secretary. In 1817, he was appointed professor of administration and politics at the University of Tübingen, but the fall of the ministry in 1819 compelled him to resign. As a deputy to the Württemberg chamber, he was active in advocating administrative reforms. He was eventually expelled from the chamber and in April 1822 sentenced to ten months' imprisonment with hard labor in the fortress of Asperg. He escaped to Alsace, and after visiting France and England returned in 1824 to finish his sentence, and was released on undertaking to emigrate to America.
Arriving in the United States in 1825, he settled in Pennsylvania, where he became an extensive landholder. He first engaged in farming, but soon switched to journalism and edited a German paper in Reading. He was active in the establishment of railroads. Some argue (e.g. Chang, 2002) that it was in America that he gathered from a study of Alexander Hamilton's work the inspiration which made him an economist of his pronounced “National System” views which found realization in Henry Clay's American System. Others refute this (Daastøl, 2011), since he argued for a German customs union already in 1819, when he established the first German union for industry and trade. In 1827 he published a pamphlet entitled Outlines of a American Political Economy, in which he defended the doctrine of pragmatic protection and free trade. The discovery of coal on some land which he had acquired made him financially independent...
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