Adam Smith, Scots born founder of the modern social science of economics

Adam Smith Memorial Stone, Canongate Kirkyard

This evening, evening, I am focusing on Adam Smith, a leading member of the Scottish Enlightenment (intelligentsia) during the 18th century.

The Scottish Enlightenment spanned the period 1730-1790 and represented an outburst of intellectual activity from such noteworthy persons as Sir Walter Scott (novelist), Robert Adam (architect), David Hume (philosopher), James Hutton (geologist) and Henry Home (judge and agrarian improver).  As a result of the new learnings Scotland was able to move forward with improved agriculture, new industries and new sciences.

Adam Smith’s life and career can be summarised as follows:-
  • Born Kirkcaldy 1723. (Kirkcaldy is a town on the coast of eastern Scotland, north of Edinburgh.)
  • Studied at Glasgow and Oxford universities returning to Kirkcaldy in 1746.
  • In 1748 gave a series of public lectures in Edinburgh which established his reputation.
  • In 1751 was appointed Professor of Logic at Glasgow University.
  • In 1752 was appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University..
  • In 1764 left Glasgow to tour the Continent of Europe as tutor to a young aristocrat. Met leading intellectuals including Voltaire and Rousseau.
  • Moved to London in 1776 and published the world’s first major work on political economy: Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. This publication is held by many to be a text-book on the merits of free market economics.
  • In 1778 was appointed Commissioner of Customs in Edinburgh.
  • In 1783 became a founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
  • Died 1790.
Smith’s Wealth of Nations resonates in today’s world as a result of which his grave is sought out by many visitors to Edinburgh. Directions: Enter the burial ground facing the Canongate Kirk entrance (below) then turn sharp left and Smith’s burial is against the wall separating the burial ground from Royal Mile and is enclosed by a ‘box’ of  iron railings.

Canongate Kirk, Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Famous alumni recorded on formal gates of Glasgow University. Adam Smith is second line down, number five from left.
Famous alumni of Glasgow University.

Adam Smith Statue, Royal Mile, Edinburgh


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