Context: Authorship of the slogan Laissez faire, laissez passer has been attributed to several persons, among them François Quesnay, Pierre Boisguilbert, and Jean Claude Gournay. All belonged to a school of French economists which was known as the Physiocrats; Quesnay and others founded the movement about the middle of the eighteenth century. The Physiocrats believed society should be governed according to natural order, that individual rights should be limited only if they infringe on rights of others, and that government is a necessary evil. Their slogan ("let do, let pass"–that is, "leave things alone") was widely used to urge freedom from government interference in commercial matters. Laissez faire embodies the principle that problems of business and commerce should be allowed to work themselves out without planning and regulation. The Physiocrats exerted considerable influence; and many of their ideas were adopted by Adam Smith, whose Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) founded the science of political economy. Cheyney gives an excellent definition of the principle of laissez faire:
This set of opinions is known as the laissez-faire theory of the functions of government, the view that the duties of government should be reduced to the smallest possible number, and that it should keep out of the economic sphere altogether.