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Karen Palumbo

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Blogs by Karen Palumbo

On This Day 6/5/1723
6/8/2011 3:49:09 PM

Adam Smith, author of "The Wealth of Nations" is baptized in Scotland


Adam Smith, future author of "The Wealth of Nations" 1776, a critique of the mercantilist model of trade in the British empire, is baptized in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Adam Smith, the father of political economy, or the relationship between a society and and its economic system, was born in the village of Kirkcaldy near Edinburgh to a customs officer and his second wife, the daughter of a substantial landholder.

Adam Smith survived kidnapping by Gypsies at age four, they abandoned the child when pursued by villagers. Ten years later, he matriculated at the University of Glasgow,where his intellect would flourish. He won a scholarship to Oxford University following his graduation in 1740.

Adam Smith returned from Oxford University to his native Scotland, where he befriended fellow philosopher David Hume. Both men would heavily influence early American political economy. David Hume on constitutions and Adam Smith on commerce. In 1751, Adam Smith accepted a professorship at the University of Glasgow. The city was a commercial hub and the center of the colonial tobacco trade.

After Adam Smith published his first major treatise in 1759, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments", Charles Townshend, the future Chancellor of the Exchequer, hired him to tour Europe while tutoring his new stepson. Ironically, it was Charles Townshend who would create "The Townshend Act" of 1767, which embodied all the aspects of mercantilism that Adam Smith and the American Revolutionaries would reject in 1776.

While traveling and tutoring, Adam Smith began writting, "The Wealth of Nations". In 1767, Adam Smith returned to London, Great Britain just as Lord Townshend was imposing his revenue acts, which taxed goods the American colonies were only allowed to import from Great Britain, including the famed tax on tea. These types of trade relationships were the essence of mercantilism.

All goods had to pass through and and be taxed by the mother country on their way to and from the colonies. It was precisely this sort of restraint on trade that Adam Smith refuted as detrimental to to the wealth of nations in his treatise, completed in 1776. The colonists' objections became a rebellion on July 4th of the same year. Their treatise were entitled the "Declaration of Independence".




Adam Smith American Patriot
American Author
David Hume Scottish Philosopher
Charles Townshend Chancellor of the Exchequer
Author: The Townshend Act


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