Adam Smith

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Adam Smith, a Scottish philosopher and the initiator of political economy was born on June 5th 1723. Smith is cited as being “the father of economics” and is still considered one of the most influential figures in economics at present. Adam Smith was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife Scotland as the son of Adam Smith, a lawyer and civil servant and Margaret Douglas who was widowed two months after Smith’s birth. Smith attended Burgh School of Kirkcaldy from 1729 to 1737, studying Latin, mathematics, history and writing. By the age of fourteen, Smith entered into the University of Glasgow and began to study moral philosophy under the instruction of Francis Hutchenson. By 1740 he was awarded with the Snell exhibition and left to begin studies at Balliol College, Oxford. Smith then left Oxford by 1746, just before his scholarship was to end.

Adam Smith began giving public lectures in 1748 at the University of Edinburgh which was sponsored by the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh under the patronage of Lord Kames. A majority of Smith’s lecture topics covered rhetoric, belles-lettres, and the progress of opulence. By 1751, Smith earned a professorship at Glasgow University teaching courses of logic. By 1752 he was an elected member of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh and took over the position of head of Moral Philosophy on 1753 when the previous head had passed.

In 1759, Adam Smith published The Theory of Moral Sentiments exemplifying most of his lectures while at Glasgow University. The literary work mainly concerned how human morality depends on sympathy between the agent and spectator, or in other words, that individual and the other members of society. In this work Smith defined “mutual sympathy” on the basis of moral sentiments. After the publication of this work, Smith become very popular as a thinker and many wealthy students from other countries left their schools to enroll in the University of Glasgow to be instructed under Smith. Preceding the publication of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith began to attend more towards jurisprudence and economics in his lectures. In his lectures he began to stress that a nation’s wealth lies in the labor rather than the accumulation of gold and silver.

The University of Glasgow on 1762 conferred the title of Doctor of Laws to Adam Smith. On 1776, Adam Smith’s magnum opus An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations also referred to The Wealth of Nations offered the world a collected description of what builds nations’ wealth and is a fundamental work used today in classical economics. The book was an instant success having its first edition copies sold out within six months of its publication.

Smith was later appointed to a post has a commissioner of customs in Scotland on 1778. He became one of the founding members of the Royal Society of Edinburg five years later when the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh received its royal charter. Then, from 1787 to 1789 Adam Smith took up the honorary position of Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow. Unfortunately, Adam Smith met his demise in 1790 of July 17 in the northern wing of Panmure House in Edinburgh. After his death from a painful illness he was buried in Canongate Kirkyard. While lying on his death bed, Adam Smith expressed a feeling of disappointment that he had not achieved more.

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