Definitions for nation of shopkeepers

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  1. Nation of shopkeepers

    The phrase "a nation of Shopkeepers" is a phrase made famous by Napoleon to describe the United Kingdom. This phrase can be translated from French to English as: Although the description was often seen as a disparaging one, Napoleon claimed that it was not intended to be so, but was merely a statement of the obvious fact that British power, unlike that of its main continental rivals, derived from commerce and not from the extent of its lands nor its population. The phrase, however, did not originate with Napoleon. It first appears in The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, who wrote: Smith is also quoted as saying that Britain was "a nation that is governed by shopkeepers", which is how he put it in the first edition. It is unlikely that either Adam Smith or Napoleon used the phrase to describe that class of small retailers who would not even have had the franchise. The phrase may have been part of standard 18th century economic dialogue. It has been suggested that Napoleon may have heard it during a meeting of the French Convention on 11 June 1794, when Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac quoted Smith's phrase. The phrase has also been attributed to Samuel Adams, but this is disputed; Josiah Tucker, Dean of Gloucester, produced a slightly different phrase in 1766:

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  1. Nation of Shopkeepers

    Napoleon Bonaparte's contemptuous name for the English.


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