Adam Smith
- Favourite Briton.

Born in Kirkcaldy, Fife
Born on 16th of June 1723
Died in Edinburgh, Edinburgh and the Lothians
Died on 17th of July 1790

Quotes from Adam Smith

'The real tragedy of the poor i'... More

Adam Smith was believed to have been born June 16th 1723 and died July 17th 1790. He was a Scottish moral philosopher and pioneer of political economy, widely cited as being the father of modern economics and one of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. He was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland to Adam Smith Snr, a lawyer, and Margaret Douglas. His father died 6 months before his birth. Smith was particularly close to his mother who encouraged his scholarly ambitions. He attended the Burgh School of Kirkcaldy from 1729 to 1737 and entered the University of Glasgow when he was aged 14. He studied moral philosophy and was awarded the Snell exhibition in 1740, enabling him to attend Balliol College, Oxford. However, he was not happy at Oxford, preferring the university at Glasgow, and left in 1746, before his scholarship ended. Smith had intended to study theology and enter the clergy, but his study of the writings of the philosopher, David Hume persuaded him to take a different route. Smith began delivering public lectures in 1748 at Edinburgh and in 1750 he met David Hume and began a friendship with him that formed a key part of the Scottish Enlightenment. In 1751 Smith earned a professorship at Glasgow University where he stayed for the next 13 years, lecturing in ethics, rhetoric, jurisprudence, political economy and logic, as well as being Chair of Moral Philosophy. He published 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments' in 1759, a groundbreaking work which was concerned with how human communication depends on sympathy between the individual and other members of society. The publication of the work attracted many students to Glasgow University to learn under Smith. He began to develop his ideas on political economy, coming up with ideas such as 'division of labour is the cause of increase in national wealth'. He was made Doctor of Laws in 1762, and in 1763 was made a lucrative offer to tutor Henry Scott, the Duke of Buccleuch. He resigned his position at the University and began touring Europe with Henry Scott, tutoring him and meeting many intellectuals including Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin and members of the Physiocratic school of thought. He also continued with his writing, mostly to pass the time. He resigned from tutoring Henry Scott and returned to Kirkcaldy in 1766 where he spent the next 10 years working on his book, 'The Wealth of Nations'. The book was an instant success when it was published in 1776, selling out the first edition in just 6 months. In May 1773 Smith was elected fellow of the Royal Society of London and in 1778 was appointed commissioner of customs in Scotland, moving to Edinburgh to live with his mother. 5 years later he became one of the founding members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and from 1787 to 1789 he occupied the position of Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow. Smith never married and lived much of his life with his mother, who died six years before his own death. He was regarded as somewhat of an eccentric but benevolent intellectual, the archetypal 'absent-minded professor'. Shortly before his death, Smith had nearly all his manuscripts destroyed. In his last years, he seemed to have been planning two major treatises, one on the theory and history of law and one on the sciences and arts. The posthumously published, 'Essays on Philosophical Subjects' contain some of what would have been these treatises. Other works, including some published posthumously, include, 'Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arms', 'A Treatise on Public Opulence' and 'Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres'. However, his legacy and great work remains 'The Wealth of Nations', one of the earliest attempts to study the rise of industry and commercial development in Europe, providing one of the best-known rationales for free trade and capitalism that greatly influenced later economists who celebrated him as the founder of free market economics. As a moral philosopher, he was well known to oppose slavery, colonialism and empire and proposed higher wages for the poor and regarded all men as intellectually equal. He died in 1790 and is buried in the Canongate churchyard, Kirkyard.

Links: Adam Smith Institute

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Brit Quote:
Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. - Adam Smith
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On this day:
Siege of Derry Begins - 1689, Opening of the Natural History Museum - 1881, Republic of Ireland established - 1949
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