Smith was born in Kirkcaldy on 5 June 1723 in the County of Fife, in Scotland.
Father's name: Adam Smith
Mother's name: Margaret Douglas
Father of Economics, Greatest Scots
Race or Ethnicity: White
Adam Smith was an economist and philosopher who wrote what is considered the "bible of capitalism," The Wealth of Nations, in which he details the first system of political economy.
While his exact date of birth isn’t known, Adam Smith’s baptism was recorded on June 5, 1723, in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. He attended the Burgh School, where he studied Latin, mathematics, history and writing. Smith entered the University of Glasgow when he was 14 and in 1740 went to Oxford.
In 1748, Adam Smith began giving a series of public lectures at the University of Edinburgh. Through these lectures, in 1750 he met and became lifelong friends with Scottish philosopher and economist David Hume. This relationship led to Smith's appointment to the Glasgow University faculty in 1751.
In 1759 Smith published The Theory of Moral Sentiments, a book whose main contention is that human morality depends on sympathy between the individual and other members of society. On the heels of the book, he became the tutor of the future Duke of Buccleuch (1763–1766) and traveled with him to France, where Smith met with other eminent thinkers of his day, such as Benjamin Franklin and French economist Turgot.
After toiling for nine years, in 1776 Smith published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (usually shortened to The Wealth of Nations), which is thought of as the first work dedicated to the study of political economy. Economics of the time were dominated by the idea that a country’s wealth was best measured by its store of gold and silver. Smith proposed that a nation’s wealth should be judged not by this metric but by the total of its production and commerce—today known as gross national product (GDP). He also explored theories of the division of labor, an idea dating back to Plato, through which specialization would lead to a qualitative increase in productivity.
Smith’s ideas are a reflection on economics in light of the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and he states that free-market economies (i.e., capitalist ones) are the most productive and beneficial to their societies. He goes on to argue for an economic system based on individual self-interest led by an “invisible hand,” which would achieve the greatest good for all.
In time, The Wealth of Nations won Smith a far-reaching reputation, and the work, considered a foundational work of classical economics, is one of the most influential books ever written.
In 1787, Smith was named rector of the University of Glasgow, and he died just three years later, at the age of 67.
High School: Burgh School
University: MA, Glasgow University (1740)
University: Oxford University
Scottish social philosopher and political economist. The son of a customs official, he studied at the Universities of Glasgow and Oxford. A series of public lectures in Edinburgh (from 1748) led to a lifelong friendship with David Hume and to Smith's appointment to the Glasgow faculty in 1751. After publishing The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), he became the tutor of the future Duke of Buccleuch (176366); with him he traveled to France, where Smith consorted with other eminent thinkers. In 1776, after nine years of work, Smith published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, the first comprehensive system of political economy. In it he argued in favour of an economic system based on individual self-interest that would be led, as if by an invisible hand, to achieve the greatest good for all, and posited the division of labour as the chief factor in economic growth. A reaction to the system of mercantilism then current, it stands as the beginning of classical economics. The Wealth of Nations in time won him an enormous reputation and would become virtually the most influential work on economics ever published. Though often regarded as the bible of capitalism, it is harshly critical of the shortcomings of unrestrained free enterprise and monopoly. In 1777 Smith was appointed commissioner of customs for Scotland, and in 1787 rector of the University of Glasgow.
Political philosophy, ethics, economics
He died in the northern wing of Panmure House in Edinburgh on 17 July 1790 after a painful illness and was buried in the Canongate Kirkyard. On his death bed, Smith expressed disappointment that he had not achieved more.
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.
No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.
To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature.
Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this - no dog exchanges bones with another.
As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce.
Adventure upon all the tickets in the lottery, and you lose for certain; and the greater the number of your tickets the nearer your approach to this certainty.
I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.
Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.
Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.