Sarah from work (knowing that I'm an advocate of free markets) photocopied some pages from Star of the Sea which contained a newspaper article that said that the free market was to blame for the Irish Potato Famine. I've thought about it on-and-off for several months and I've decided I don't know enough about the history of the period to comment on that particular case.
However in general it is true that free markets as described by Adam Smith did regulate the labour force by starvation. In other words, if the price of labour dropped below a certain point the labourer couldn't feed herself and died of starvation. This reduced the supply of labour, and so the price of labour rose again. It works, but isn't morally acceptable.
The good thing about free markets is that they are the quickest way to make your country rich; the bad thing is that the wealth isn't distributed evenly. That's why I think that government should stop taxing the poorest in society, and in this way redistribute the wealth a bit.