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Adam Smith - a Famous Economist

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Tonya Thompson

Professor Dillard

Macro Economics

April 8, 2018

Adam Smith

Intro: Adam Smith is a famous economist. As the father of economics, he is famous for his book called, Wealth of Nations. While many people in his era were focused on British rule, he was devoted to economics. Smith was not always focused on economics, but his background led him to creating the invisible hand theory that is still relatable in the economy today. Many parts of our economy today is built off Adam Smith’s theory. His theory became the cornerstone for economics. This is why he gained his nickname. Adam smith’s early life, significant events, contributions, his character traits, and later life are all important to understand who he truly is.

Early Life: Adam Smith is famous for being the father of economics.  He was born on June 5, 1723 and died on July 17, 1790. The well-known economists was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. His father was also named Adam Smith and his mother was Margaret Douglas. His father was a comptroller of customs at a small village, and his mother was simply the daughter of a landowner. By the time Smith was only two months old his father passed away leaving his mother to take care of him. His mother influenced his drive for education. Burgh School of Kirkcaldy was the first school Adam attended, and this school was one of the bests in Scotland. By the time Adam Smith was 14, he enrolled at the University of Glasgow. Francis Hutcheson was one of Adam Smith’s professors at this university that had a major impact on Adam Smith’s economic views. After graduating at his first university, he learned further about philosophy at Balliol College. By the end of Adam Smith’s education, he studied multiple subjects such as History, Philosophy, Writing, Latin, and Mathematics.

Significant Events: After graduating College, Adam Smith wrote many public lectures about politics, history, religion, and economics with David Hume, a philosopher. In 1751, Smith became a professor at the University of Glasgow for moral philosophy. That next year in 1752, he was voted to be a part of the Philosophical Society. In Smith’s lifetime, he was a member of the Royal Society of London, Literary Club, Commissioner of Customs, and then awarded the job of the Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow. The significant events in his life dealt with two books that he had written. The first that he published in 1759 was called, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.” This book dealt with how, “…Mutual sympathy was the basis of moral sentiments” (“Adam Smith Biography”). In 1776, he published Wealth of Nations, and this was his most well-known piece.

Contributions: Adam’s Smith’s biggest contribution was his book Wealth of Nations. In this book, he describes the Invisible Hand Theory, enlightened self-interest, limited government, and a free-market economy. The Invisible Hand Theory promotes that everyone’s tendency is for what is best for themselves. This theory is all about how a free market economy is okay because if everyone is doing what he or she should be for his or her best interest, everything will work together. The government does not need to interfere with any of the economy because when they do, unwanted surpluses and shortages can occur. On any given day, a government cannot estimate how much any business will sell, or how much a customer will buy. A government cannot know how much a customer will buy a certain product for, for every business in the country. The economy has a force behind everything that, “helps the demand and supply of goods in a free market to reach equilibrium” (“The Economic Times “).

Character Traits: Adam Smith was very intelligent. To be able to begin college at a young age along with developing theories, he was well above the norm. His character is evident through the articles he had wrote. One website describes his personality as, “benevolent intellectual, comically absent-minded, with peculiar habits of speech and gait, and a smile of inexpressible benignity” (“Paperbackswap”).

Later Life: On top of Adam Smith’s writing career, he was a tutor. He tutored the Duke of Buccleuch. He traveled all around Europe tutoring many subjects for him. His first location for tutoring was in Toulouse, France. He stayed there for over a year and then went to Geneva, France. At this location he met a famous philosopher Voltaire. After both of these places, he went on to Paris. In Paris is where Adam Smith met famous leaders like Benjamin Franklin, Jean D’Alembert, and Francois Quesnay. Francois Quesnay was the head of a Physiocratic school and this is who Adam Smith ended up wanting to dedicate Wealth of Nations to. Quesnay had many of the same ideas as Adam Smith. They discussed many ideas in Paris and used the shortened phrase laissez fair many times.



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