Scottish moral philosopher; credited with founding political economy as a distinct discipline.

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1 Biographical Notes on Adam Smith ( ) Prepared by L. Karstensson, Department of Economics, UNLV 10/14/ General Comment Scottish moral philosopher; credited with founding political economy as a distinct discipline. 2. Chronology 1723 Baptism: Baptized in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, a small town just north of Edinburgh, on June 5. Only child of Adam Smith and Margaret Douglas. His father, a law and customs official, died before he was born, so young Adam was raised by his mother, the daughter of John Douglas, a landed proprietor of Strathgendry, Fifeshire Early education: Attended Burgh School in Kirkcaldy, at the time a particularly reputable school under the schoolmaster, one David Miller. He was given an education in the classics (Latin, literature, and drama) and in mathematics University education: Student at Glasgow College. Studied Latin under George Rosse, Greek under Alexander Dunlop, logic under John Loudoun, mathematics under Robert Simson, natural philosophy under Robert Dick, and moral philosophy under Francis Hutcheson who had an indelible influence on Smith Student at Balliol College, Oxford University. Attended on a Snell exhibition (fellowship) worth 40 per year. Studied Greek, English literature, and French, and read "industriously" for himself. Took a B.A. degree in Career: Living in Kirkcaldy with his mother. Continued studies in belles-lettres in hopes of getting an academic position Living in Edinburgh. Gave courses of lectures in literature, rhetoric (speech and composition), history of philosophy, and jurisprudence. Lectured on economic topics showing his opposition to government interference with "the natural course of things." Received an A.M. Degree from Oxford in Met David Hume in this period; they cultivated a lifelong friendship. -1-

2 Professor at University of Glasgow. Held chair of logic for one year and chair of moral philosophy for the remaining eleven years. This position was a reward for the successful Edinburgh lectures. The professorship carried an endowment of 70 per year, fees of 100 per year, and a house in the college. His course in moral philosophy treated four topics: (1) natural theology, (2) ethics, (3) theory of political institutions founded on justice, and (4) theory of political institutions founded on "expediency." This course became famous. During this professorship Smith took an active part in University and municipal governance, and in social activities of an intellectual character. Became member of the Philosophical Society in 1752; this converted to a Fellow in the Royal Society of Edinburgh in Corresponded with David Hume. Wrote "History of Astronomy" in this period. Published Theory of Moral Sentiments in Awarded an LL.D. degree in Tour on the Continent. He was appointed by Charles Townshend to be the tutor for his step-sons, Henry Campbell Scott, Duke of Buccleuch, and Hew Campbell Scott. The purpose of the tour was to transform the young Duke into "a grounded politician." For this charge, Smith would receive travel expenses and 300 per year for life. The tour took Smith to Paris (10 days); Toulouse (20 months) with side trips to Bordeaux, Bagneres-de-Bigorre, and Montpellier; Geneva (4 months); and in Paris again (8 months). The tour ended when Hew Campbell Scott died in Paris. During this tour, Smith encountered notables of the French Enlightenment and/or their ideas: Voltaire, Rousseau, d'holbach, Helvetius, d'alembert, Diderot, and others. And he met and read the works of the Physiocrats: Quesnay, Turgot, and others. Since the Theory of Moral Sentiments was a rather highly regarded piece of work on the Continent, Smith was well received in intellectual circles in France; French women were attracted to the sympathy theme in the work. Began writing the manuscript which would become the Wealth of Nations Six-month stay in London. Worked with Charles Townshend and read at the British Museum. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (London) on May 21, 1767; admitted on May 27, Living in Kirkcaldy with mother. Worked on the manuscript which would become the Wealth of Nations. Corresponded with Hume In London. Worked on the Wealth of Nations manuscript. The Wealth of Nations published on March 9, May have met with Benjamin Franklin in this period.

3 In Kirkcaldy, Edinburgh, and London. Completing new editions of the Wealth of Nations and the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Death of David Hume on August 27, Living in Edinburgh with mother. Resided at his own home, Panmure House in the Canongate. Was appointed Commissioner of Customs for Scotland ( 500 per year) and Commissioner of the Salt Duties for Scotland ( 100 per year). Traveled some and attended social functions. Mother died on May 23, Death ("Great Change"): Died on July 17. Buried in the Canongate churchyard.

4 -4-3. Of Interest 1. Personal characteristics: Appearance was "an amalgam of protrusions." "I am a beau in nothing but my books." [Eklund and Hebert (1997), pp ] Joined literary clubs. Dined with companions regularly. Had a reputation for absent-mindedness: (1) the tanning pit episode (1759); (2) the buttered bread tea episode (1767); (3) the walk in the nightshirt episode. 2. Kidnapped by gypsies at age Among the prominent personalities that figured centrally in Smith's life were Francis Hutcheson (at University of Glasgow) and David Hume (in Edinburgh). 4. The years at Oxford were unpleasant, the result of discrimination against Scotish students, and the lack of diligence of professors and tutors at Oxford [see W of N, pp ]. 5. Smith's lifetime salary derived from the tutorial of the Duke of Buccleuch was 300 per year. In 1980 dollars, this is something between $35,000 and $88,000 per year, assuming a 2 percent rate of wage inflation and an exchange rate of something between 2 and 5 dollars to the pound. 6. Smith's library at the time of his death is estimated to have been 2,800 volumes [see J. Viner, "Guide to John Rae's Life of Adam Smith," p. 121]. 7. William Wordsworth makes reference to Smith as a literary critic in the preface to his Lyrical Ballads: "the worst critic, David Hume excepted, that Scotland, a soil to which this sort of weed seems natural, has produced." [See John Rae, Life of Adam Smith (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1965), p. 34 and William Wordsworth, The Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1919), Vol X, p. 85, n. 2.] 8. Existing artifacts on Smith: (1) A Tassie medallion with whig (1787) in the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland; (2) A Tassie medallion without whig (1787) held privately by a J. R. Findlay, Esq., of Edinburgh; (3) A questionable portrait by T. Collopy in the National Museum of Antiquities, National Gallery of Scotland; (4) Engravings of the whiged Tassie medallion by J. Jackson, J. Beugo, and H. Horsburgh; and (5) Two portraits by Kay for the "Edinburgh Portraits." [See DNB, p. 417.]

5 -5-4. Selected Works 1. "The Principles Which Lead and Direct Philosophical Inquiries, Illustrated by the History of Astronomy." 2. The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759). Six editions. 3. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). Five editions. 5. Sources Eklund, R. B. and R. F. Hebert A History of Economic Theory and Method. 4th Ed.; New York: McGraw-Hill. Rae, J [1895]. Life of Adam Smith. New York: Augustus M. Kelley. A useful chronology appears in this volume in Jacob Viner, "Guide to John Rae's Life of Adam Smith," pp Ross, I. S The Life of Adam Smith. New York: Oxford University Press. Stephen, L "Smith, Adam," in the Dictionary of National Biography, v. 18, pp Taylor, O. H A History of Economic Thought. New York: McGraw-Hill. Viner, J "Smith, Adam," in the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, v. 14, pp

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