Adam Smith: Economist and Philosopher (1723 – 1790)

Published November 1, 2003

Adam Smith was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland in 1723. In 1751 he was appointed professor of logic at Glasgow University, delivering lectures in ethics, rhetoric, jurisprudence, and political economy. In 1759 he published The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

He moved to London in 1776, where he published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which examined in detail the consequences of economic freedom. It covered such concepts as the role of self-interest, the division of labor, the function of markets, and the international implications of a laissez-faire economy. Wealth of Nations established economics as an autonomous subject and launched the economic doctrine of free enterprise. In 1778 Smith was appointed to a post of commissioner of customs in Edinburgh, Scotland. He died there on July 17, 1790, after an illness.

For more information …

The full text of The Theory of Moral Sentiments is available on the Internet at the Liberty Fund’s Library of Economics and Liberty Web site, Wealth of Nations is online at