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Adam Smith

Glasgow University Library Special Collections

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Adam Smith

An engraving depicting the political economist and philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790), from a cameo by the artist James Tassie (1735-1799). Kirkcaldy-born Smith studied at the University of Glasgow 1737-1740 and at Oxford. He became Professor of Logic (1751) and of Moral Philosophy (1752-1764) at the University, and described his years in Glasgow as the happiest of his life.

The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith's collection of essays on ethics, was published in 1759 and established his reputation as a philosopher and a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. However, Smith chose to leave the city in 1764 to become tutor and travelling companion to the Duke of Buccleuch and his brother. He returned to Kirkcaldy in 1766 to write An Inquiry in the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations, which was published in 1776 and inspired the movements for fiscal reform and free trade which became so powerful in the industrialised nations of the West during the 19th century. He went on to serve as Commissioner of Customs in Edinburgh.

Smith became Chancellor of the University of Glasgow in 1787. Its new Social Sciences building was named for him in 1967.

Reference: Sp Coll Mu42-e.2

Glasgow University Library, Special Collections

Adam Smith Building, An Inquiry in the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations, authors, chancellors, ethics, free trade, logic, moral philosophers, moral philosophy, political economists, portraits, professors, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, University of Glasgow

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