Gournay, Vincent de (văNsäNˈ də gōrnāˈ) [key], 1712–59, French economist, precursor of the physiocrats and of Adam Smith. A wealthy merchant, he was in government service as intendant of commerce from 1751 to 1758. He translated and annotated the chief work of Josiah Child (see under Child, Sir John and gathered around him a group of men interested in reforming the economy of France and in abolishing trade restrictions. His favorite phrase was "Laissez faire, laissez passer," and he is generally credited with being its originator. Unlike the physiocrats, he regarded industry and commerce as well as agriculture to be important sources of wealth.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.