Philadelphia merchant and political economist.
Ordained a minister at Greenwich, Massachusetts (1749). Moved to Philadelphia, where he became a merchant and also taught at the Germantown Academy (1755). Twice imprisoned during the Revolutionary War (1776, 1777). Authored a series of essays promoting free trade and arguing that the United States should finance the war by taxation rather than loans or the printing of paper money (1776-91). Supported the Constitution and strong national government.
Son of Pelatiah and Joanna (Crowfoot) Smith Webster of Lebanon, Connecticut. Educated at Yale (B.A. 1746). Married Ruth Kellogg (1750); five children. After her death, he married Rebecca Hunt (1785).