Young Man's Companion of 1737: America's First Book on Accounting?


This paper introduces the first accounting writing published in America: ‘Merchant's‐Accompts’ in Bradford's Young Man's Cornpanion (Philadelphia, 1737). The earliest American publications previously recognized were Hutton (1788) and Mitchell (1796). There were fifteen eighteenth century American printings of the Young Man's Companion. American accounting historians have overlooked the work, probably because of H. C. Bentley's restrictive bibliography. ‘Merchant's‐Accompts’ presents a short, but fairly sophisticated, double‐entry instruction. Research reveals a tangled bibliographical history involving an incorrect attribution and a double plagiarism. The republication in 1748 by Benjamin Franklin gave credit to the proper author, George Fisher, who was once thought to be a woman. Knowledge of the Young Man's Companion adds an important dimension to our understanding of the development of accounting in America. Copyright © 1984, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

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