By November the Spaniards had evacuated the greater part of the island; after Captain General Macias embarked for Spain, General Ricardo Ortega was governor from the 6th to the 18th of October, when the island was turned over to the American forces.
In the history of economics or the biography of Ricardo it is of interest to show that he anticipated later writers, or that his analysis bears the test of modern criticism; but no economist is under any obligation to defend Ricardo's reputation, nor is the fact that a doctrine is included in his works to be taken as a demonstration of its truth.
Like Malthus, Ricardo owes his reputation very largely to the theory associated with his name, though it has long ceased to be stated precisely in the terms he employed.
Treated at first as a doctrine peculiarly applicable to land, with a certain controverted relevance to other natural agents, it has been so extended that there is scarcely any subject of economic study in which we may not expect to find adaptations or analogies, so that Ricardo seemed to have discovered the key of economic knowledge.
At the age of fourteen Ricardo entered his father's office, where he showed much aptitude for business.
Smith had already dealt with this question; Ricardo develops and criticizes his results.
For any large treatment of moral and political questions he seems to have been alike by nature and preparation unfitted; and there is no evidence of his having had any but the most ordinary and narrow views of the great social problems. He shows no trace of that hearty sympathy with the working classes which breaks out in several passages of the Wealth of Nations; we ought, perhaps, with Held, to regard it as a merit in Ricardo that he does not cover with fine phrases his deficiency in warmth of social sentiment.
We think that the decay of interest in these writers involves a real loss, and that students of modern problems may do worse than read Ricardo and his school.
In the following year he was introduced to political economy and studied Adam Smith and Ricardo with his father.
DAVID RICARDO (1772-1823), English economist, was born in London on the 19th of April 1772, of Jewish origin.