Adam Smith

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Adam Smith

Adam Smith’s exact birthdate is not known for sure, but he was baptized on June 5, 1723. His father died before he was born, and Smith’s uncle stepped in to help raise him. Smith began studying morale philosophy under Francis Hutcheson at the University of Glasgow. In 1740 he received his master’s degree. From 1740-1746 Adam Smith attended Oxford, but found it pointless and left the college. He then went to Edinburgh where he gave public lectures, these lectures varied in subject. From rhetoric to economic philosophy, he tried to teach it all. His teachings grew in popularity and he was soon hired by the University of Glasgow. There he excelled as a teacher and a chairman. During his time as a professor he published The Theory of Moral Sentiments. This work sold well, but not as well as his later publishing. He then, in 1763, received a very well paying position as the tutor for the duke of Buccleuch. He quickly left his job at the University and travelled with Lord Townshend’s son from 1764-1766. As a tutor he met many of Europe’s leading economic professionals and philosophers. He and the young duke both learned a lot about world trade while travelling. In 1767 he returned to the U.K. to work for Lord Townshend. Then, many years later, in 1776 he published his most popular work; The Wealth of Nations. This work sold extremely well and the ideas contained in it spread fast. Smith then resided to Edinburgh where he died on July 17, 1790.


June 5, 1723- Adam Smith was baptized in Kirkcaldy, United Kingdom.1740- Receives a Master’s degree from the University of Glasgow. 1750- Becomes a well-known lecturer in Edinburgh, where he meets David Hume. 1752- He is elected to be First Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. 1759- Publishes The Theory of Moral Sentiments. 1764 through 1766- Smith is a travelling tutor for the son of Lord Townshend. 1767-Adam helps with Lord Townshend’s research into the nation’s debt. 1776- Publishes The Wealth of Nations. July 17, 1790- He dies in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

In 1750 Smith had been lecturing in Edinburgh, which had a great effect on his career path. His ability to educate his peers thrust him into a prestigious job at the University of Glasgow. The years he spent as a teacher increased his communication skills greatly and allowed Smith to establish himself professionally. Publishing The Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759 allowed Smith to spread his idea that a self-reliant man working for personal gain will hold himself to preform by a set of natural laws. The success of this work increased Adam Smith’s fame and positive notoriety. As the tutor for Lord Townshend’s son from 1764-1766 he travelled Europe from and met many famous economical philosophers. He began to notice trends in the world of trade, and continued to research the previously mentioned trends when he returned to his home nation. His relationship with Lord Townshend also landed him a good job aiding Townshend in the study of the national debt.After meeting some of Europe’s top economical professionals he began work on The Wealth of Nations. He published his work in 1776, it sold extremely well. People enjoyed reading Smith’s ideas of the perfect free-market. He wrote that a Nation’s wealth should be judged by its commerce and production, not by the amount of gold and silver it possesses. At the University of Glasgow Adam Smith became First Chair of Morale Philosophy in 1752. While in this great position he studied heavily in the philosophy of economics and trade, he spread his research very well through lectures to his students. He looked into the reason for people working, and how to get the most out of them for the smallest amount of money. This paved the way for his first published work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Lasting Impact

Smith’s most significant work was The Wealth of Nations. This publication helped spread the idea of Laissez-faire, or a free market. Immediately his concept of the invisible hand caught on. This idea explained that people work not to serve others, but to serve themselves. One example that Adam Smith used was that of the Butcher. He cuts meat which he gives to you to eat, in exchange for money. His goal was to receive money, not to feed you. Also, Smith stood against Mercantilism. Mercantilism is the idea that a nation’s wealth is determined by the amount of gold and silver it owns. He disputed this with his idea that a nation’s wealth should be determined by its amount of commerce and trade internationally. This belief caught on very fast. Many politicians saw his work and stood strongly by it. Today a nation’s wealth and standard of living is determined by its Gross domestic product or GPD. GPD is a value placed on all good and services produced in a nation. So it is fair to say that Adam Smith is the father of modern economics.

Works Cited

"Adam Smith". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. "Adam Smith." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.."Adam Smith." World of Sociology. Gale, 2001. Biography in Context. Web. 21 Mar. 2014. . Braeman, John . “Adam Smith.” Biography Reference Center. Ebsco Host,Web. 20 Apr. 2014. .Helibroner, Robert. “Adam Smith.” Biography Reference Center. Ebscohost, 1 Mar. 2012.Web 20 Mar. 2014. <>.Herzog, Lisa . "Adam Smith, political theorist?!." - Politics in Spires. University of Oxford, Web. 8 June 2014. .Horn, Karen . "Why Adam Smith Still Matters." StandPoint. StandPoint, Web. 8 June 2014. .Konig, J. "Moneyness: Adam Smith's very own Lehman Crisis." Moneyness.Web. 8 June 2014. ."On Pin-heads and Laissez fairies." Several Four Many. . Web. 8 June 2014. .“Smith, Adam.” FactCite: Lincoln Library Biographies Online. Lincoln Lip. P, 2012. Web. 20 Mar. 2014. <>."Spreading the Ideals of the Enlightenment (Overview)." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2014. .Winch, Donald. "Adam Smith." Biography Reference Center. Ebscohost, Web. 20 Mar. 2014.< 064f296e55b1%40sessionmgr110&vid=7&hid=127&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnJjLWxpdmU%3d#db=b6h&AN=51814085>.

Adam Smith.



“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.”



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