Due to the inaccurate record keeping of the 1700’s, the exact birth date of Adam Smith remains unknown. The only date that can actually be isolated as possibly an indication of his birth date is a baptism listing from his birthplace of Kirkcaldy, Scotland dated June 16, 1723. It is believed that his father, his namesake, died 6 months before his birth thus leaving only his mother, Margaret Douglas, as the only acknowledged birth parent.
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He was educated at some of the most notable universities in Europe beginning at the age of 14. One of his most notable tutors was Francis Hutcheson, whom he studied Moral Philosophy under at Glasgow University. It was during his academic years here that he learned to exercise his rights to liberty, reason, and free speech. In 1740, he transferred to Balliol College, Oxford, where he underwent what he believed to be a stifling education that could not compare to the likes of Glasgow University. Due to health reasons, he was forced to leave Oxford University in 1746, before completing his studies.
Eventually becoming a noted lecturer and author, his most notable works include 1959’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry Into The Wealth and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which he wrote in 1776. The latter contains his thoughts and theories that evolved and developed into our modern day economic beliefs. Thus, earning him the title “Father of Economics”.
The latter book, being his most famous piece of literary work, is often regarded as the book that established his formal economic school of thought which is based upon the theory that completely free individuals can use their skills and capital in the name of self interest. It is this discretionary decision making concept that allows nations to finally attain wealth and functionality. His most notable school of thought pertains perhaps to the study of the “invisible hand”. This is the principle upon which most capitalist ideals seem to be based upon. According to this principle, there is a faster and larger output from workers who are trained and specialized in the performance of one task of duty in a conveyor belt type of work system.
Smith believed and taught that with capitalism comes a great responsibility for the government of nations. This is because, as a democracy, it is the job of the government to ensure that people will be guided accordingly in the practice of democratic self interest. Therefore, it is the task of the government to ensure that the business undertakings of the working community result in projects that shall be beneficial to all people concerned in the development of the business and its offshoot activities.
His economic theories are what the principles of American economics are based upon. His way of economic thinking still holds up in the 21st century and has outlasted and surpassed the theories of his contemporaries and eclipsed the others in the same field. Thus making him the most respected and authoritative name in the field of economics.
By 1790, the noted lecturer, philosopher, and economist had died without any wife or children on record.
- “Adam Smith“. The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. 2008. Web.
- “Adam Smith Biography”. Heart O’Scotland. 2009.
- “Economists – Adam Smith”. Virtual Economy. N.A.