Adam Smith

1723 - 1790

Adam Smith
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Adam Smith

Economist and philosopher. Born in Kirkcaldy, Smith was educated at the University of Glasgow, joining when he was just 14 years old. He lived in Edinburgh, but was appointed Professor of Logic in Glasgow (1751). The following year he became Professor of Moral Philosophy at the same university. In the mid-1760s Smith went to France as tutor to Henry Montagu Douglas Scott, the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch (1746 - 1819).

His book "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" (1776) was the corner-stone of the concept of political economy. This book made Smith a wealthy man. In it he argued that free trade and individual enterprise providing abundant goods and services are the basis of a successful economy.

Smith thrived in the stimulating society of the time, with his circle of acquaintances including Joseph Black (1728-99), the chemist, James Hutton (1726-97), the geologist, James Watt (1736 - 1819), inventor of the steam engine, Robert Foulis (1707-76), printer and publisher, and David Hume (1711-76), the philosopher. He entertained regularly at his home, Panmure House in Edinburgh's Canongate, and was a founding fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783.

Smith is buried in the Canongate Kirkyard and commemorated by a statue on the Royal Mile.

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