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A group of eighteenth-century French economists, led by F. Quensay, who later became known as the Physiocrats or ‘Les Economistes’. They believed in the existence of a natural order and regarded the state’s role as simply that of preserving property and upholding the natural order. They held that agriculture was the only source of wealth and therefore this sector should be taxed by l’impot unique. In this, and in their advocacy for free trade, their views were directly opposed to those of the mercantilists. In their beliefin Laissez-Faire, they had much in common with, and certainly influenced, British classical economics, and especially Adam Smith. Quesnay’s Tableau Economique, published in 1758, has in it the origins of modem ideas on the circulation of wealth and the nature of interrelationships in the economy.

Reference: The Penguin Dictionary of Economics, 3rd edt.